On Friday 15th July, I went to a conversation between Ben Okri and Jeremy Corbyn at the Southbank.

The auditorium was packed. The majority were young. They clapped, whistled and cheered. Most of the rest of us got infected and began to do likewise – I can’t whistle or I would have done. It was wonderful to be in that packed, huge auditorium, listening to these two men in such sane, intelligent, loving, respectful and profound conversation about the things that most matter.

 

The two of them expressed much of what I stand for, profoundly believe in and hope for. The event restored my sanity, hope, and belief that things can be better and humanity is on a long walk to a better world despite all the fallings to the wayside and almost daily horror of mass killings.

 

But I often lose my self-belief. I get knocked down by all the “bad news” from a traditional media that is too often sensational, cynical and hostile to what is fresh, hopeful and progressive. Basically it is too challenging for them. Like some of Jeremy’s opponents, “they don’t get it”.

 

It showed Jeremy at his best. It gave me a fresh insight as to who he is. He is a thought leader, one of the pioneers who generally meet with a hostile reception because they are disruptive. He is not a dangerous old “lefty” whatever that means. People like Jeremy are often decried as unrealistic. But it is people Ben and Jeremy who change the world. That is the lesson of history: idealists transform the world – people like Mary Wolstenholme, Wilberforce, the Suffragettes, Martin Luther King and Keir Hardy who started the Labour party. But it also requires people like Winston Churchill and Clement Attlee.

 

Jeremy is one of these “progressive or crusading forces”. But is Jeremy able to lead a deeply divided and diverse Labour party that is currently split in so many ways – like the Tory party? Thought leaders are not necessarily: transformative, enabling leaders who can unite people in their diversity. Diversity needs to be welcomed; “restraining forces” or “opposing forces” must be respected and valued. There is a useful phrase: “I go in with one view; I come out with a different one”. Collaboration and consensus needs to be built. That is the task of leadership. Reconciling those two forces is the big issue for Labour – and the nation. Can Jeremy do that that within his own party? That is the challenge confronting him. Also the party must reconcile the difference between its MPs and its members. In the past 48 hours Labour has received more than some 183,541 applications to vote in the party’s forthcoming leadership election.

 

As I have said elsewhere, progressive politicians need to put aside their party interests and collaborate to bring about a better Britain, a better Europe and a better world.

 

Bruce Nixon is the author of The 21st Century Revolution – A Call to Greatness Published by Acorn Independent Publishing.

 

We could be at the beginning of a benign revolution in politics

The result of the EU referendum has further exposed huge flaws in the way we do politics. There is widespread dissatisfaction with how we do politics and desire for radical change – even more so after the referendum. Then there is the question of the validity of a referendum on such a complex issue as our membership of the EU discussed in Richard Dawkins’ Prospect article Brexit Roulette – How dare you entrust such an important decision to ignoramuses like me? This dire situation was brought about by a Government elected with the support of less than 24% of the electorate, arguably for party political reasons, rather than in the interests of the nation.

 

I go further and challenge our current belief in so-called majority government. I believe in the principle of getting the whole system into the room i.e. all stakeholders in order to create solutions that will have the largest support and be most likely to work. The absence of this approach over the past thirty years has led to conflict and failure to resolve key challenges facing the nation. Recent examples include the alienation of teachers and young doctors many of whom, despite their dedication, are finding their working life intolerable.

 

Given the great challenges (and opportunities) humanity faces, collaboration and consensus building rather than continuous conflict is required as I argue in my blog post Is Majority Rule fit for the 21st Century?

 

The EU referendum produced a 72.2 % turnout, a Leave vote of 51.9% and 48.1 % for Remain- a difference of just 2.8%. Furthermore, 28% did not vote. With such a small margin, surely Parliament can decide not to implement the result of a referendum which is only advisory. Brexit loophole? MPs must still vote in order for Britain to leave the EU, say top lawyers . The Leave vote is described as a majority. In detail the results reveal a deeply divided nation. It can also be interpreted as a strong protest against the Westminster establishment, their failure to represent the whole nation or listen to and act on the concerns of many people about many issues. That always leads to trouble. Such worries include the consequences of globalisation and new technology on employment. The internet of things and zero marginal cost may revolutionise work even further The Zero Marginal Cost Society There is also the failure to present an inspiring and positive vision of a radically reformed EU that addresses the major concerns of all member countries. Positive strategies to address all these issues need to be developed and presented to the public.

 

We could be at the beginning of a benign transformation in British politics. Corbyn calls the 100,000-strong surge in Labour supporters since the EU referendum as evidence of a “political sea change”. Labour supporters now stand at over 500,000 – their highest membership in modern times. Labour could split unless it reconciles the differences between their members and MPs. I agree with Paul Hilder’s article Progressive voters must ditch party differences to gain a voice in Brexit Britain. It’s time for politicians and activists to put aside their tribal loyalties.

 

Corbynism is an interesting phenomenon – a refreshing force for change, with much in common with emerging leaders in other European countries. I admire him for his strong values and integrity with which many people, especially the young, are in great sympathy. He deserves credit for recruiting large numbers of people to Labour and making Labour a people’s party. Some of his colleagues simply don’t get it! He is a very different kind of leader. We need transformative leaders who offer a vision and enable others to do likewise. They are not necessarily charismatic – Attlee, arguably one of the great 20th Century leaders, was not charismatic. Charisma can be dangerous as we are seeing through the Chilcot report on the Iraq war. Of course Corbyn has his flaws – we all do. Whether he could lead Labour in a successful election campaign is a big question that could be tested very soon.

 

I believe we need an alliance of progressive people who want a sustainable, fair and truly democratic Britain. Such an alliance is needed for radical constitutional reform that is required if we are to have progressive government. How refreshing it would be if we bring about such an alliance in the next Parliament. In my blog post We need a new Magna Carta to give power to the people  I argue for a new written constitution.

 

There are grounds for hope. Following the devastating criticisms of the Chilcot Report it is arguable that that the British state is at an all-time low. Furthermore, we lack the great leadership needed to address impending environmental catastrophe, the greatest threat humanity has ever faced. It is at times like these, and the public are ready to support them, that great leaders emerge. Remember it was only after the catastrophe of Dunkirk and the general incompetence of government was clear that the two greatest British leaders of the Twentieth Century, Winston Churchill and Clement Attlee emerged. The war was won and the Britain’s much admired post-war social settlement was established.

 

To make this happen, all of us need to get engaged in whatever way we can – and challenge the feeling that this is all too idealistic and there is nothing we can do. Hope and idealism have bought humanity a long way; so-called realism has not!

 

Acknowledgment: I was inspired to write this blog post after reading Mary Dejevsky’s recent article in the Independent An astonishing power vacuum has let us down as a continent looks on.

 

Bruce Nixon is the author of The 21st Century Revolution – A Call to Greatness Published by Acorn Independent Publishing.

 

The sad result of UK’s EU Referendum must be changed

Leave 51.9%; 48.1 Remain demonstrates the need for consensus, not adversarial politics and constitutional reform. Many people are now in despair, especially young people who see their prospects damaged. Many people have not been heard and their concerns have not been addressed. Britain is a deeply divided nation.
Already, over 4 million people have signed the petition for a new referendum. The problem is that referendums are divisive. Now there is a call for an early General Election.

Citizens must demand that the political parties commit to comprehensive constitutional reform in the next Parliament. Look at this call for Constitutional Reform

Is Majority Rule fit for the 21st Century?

https://brucenixonblog.wordpress.com/2016/04/11/is-majority-rule-fit-for-the-21st-century/

 

Building a Good Europe

The debate about Britain’s future in Europe is full of fear, misinformation and often abuse. Many people are confused. Time is short.  So I am posting this blog to give voice to a hopeful, imaginative vision. I hope Brits will come to their senses and in the referendum vote clearly for Remain in Europe.

Brits are Europeans: we fought and died in WW2 to save Europe from dictatorship and Nazi crimes. The EU was set up to create collaboration, prevent more war and, like the UN, create a better more peaceful and prosperous future for everyone. Today we face enormous challenges which require collaboration: climate chaos, destruction of the ecosystem, the danger of nuclear war, a growing divide between rich and poor and mass migration. According to the UN Refugee Agency, the number of people displaced worldwide has hit a new record, with 65.3 million people forced from their home as of the end of 2015.

Rather than complaining and fighting amongst ourselves, often abusively, we Brits should play a constructive part in building a Good Europe, for ourselves, our children and their children and the World. Here are constructive proposals of Compass – together for a good society, http://www.compassonline.org.uk/  created by its members.

Building a Good Europe

A more hopeful, imaginative, inspiring discussion about Europe

Executive summary

 

This publication draws on ideas discussed online at www.goodeurope.org. We also held a participatory event for around 100 people, when the themes we address were debated in small working groups. A summary of the responses from this event is given at the end of each policy essay. The full PDF is here http://www.goodeurope.org/report/

 

Visions of a Good Europe

We need to re-imagine what a Good Europe would look and feel like. The creation of the EU set the direction for peace and trade in the 20th century. But today Europe is failing to respond adequately to the huge crises we now face – from Syria to Greece, refugees to austerity, and climate change. The purpose of the EU must be re-established for the 21st century. We explore how a Good Europe can meet the demands for social justice, democracy and sustainability.

How we experience life at the European level is inextricably linked with the EU, which has not always been as it is now. Its structure is not inevitable: it was created and can be recreated. As it reforms it must become a Europe for the people by the people, to meet the needs of the 21st century.

Europe is not just a place, it’s a story we tell each other. By nature it’s a cultural construct and this will shape its evolution. A Good Europe will be a continent-wide expression of what it means to be human in the 21st century. It will be relational, not transactional. Solidarity will transcend borders as we work together to bring about a better world that is underpinned by the original intentions behind the EU (peace, human rights and equality) but more fair, green and democratic, where security and freedom will go hand in hand.

Radical, feasible policies

We need transformative policy ideas to unlock the vision of what a Good Europe could look and feel like. These are the big-hitting policies that could lead to a fundamental transformation of the EU in the 21st century.

Democracy is the biggest weakness of the European project, yet also its potential deliverer. The EU must do democracy better – and do it fast. We should insist that democratic legitimacy is the axis on which the EU turns. A Good Europe must adopt democracy as its founding value – and be open to a number of key changes this will bring. Specifically:

  • The EU must become more transparent
  • European Parliament, EU Council and other meetings should be live recorded
  • All treaty documents should be made public
  • The register for lobbyists must become compulsory
  • The institutions of the EU must place democracy at their heart
  • European Parliament should be able to propose legislation
  • European Parliament should have two chambers: one directly elected proportional to population, the other selected by member state’s parliaments
  • We need to move beyond representation to direct participation
  • A Constitutional Assembly drawing citizens from across the continent should consider all the options for democracy in the EU and make recommendations/decisions

The European project is an embodiment of the flourishing of potential that can be achieved when a commitment to the free movement of people across national borders is implemented. Yet misguided policies and a lack of coordination at the European level have led to many problems. We must have renewed coordination and solidarity between the member states and with migrant populations, to find policies which are more sustainable and lead to better outcomes for all. We should:

  • Implement a rights-based refugee response
  • End immigration detention in the EU
  • Create a social rights pillar
  • Create conditions where people don’t feel they have to leave their country to have a good life, for example, a universal income for all in Europe
  • Throughout each aspect of the discussion of migration we must face up to and tackle issues including othering, racism and Islamophobia.

Europe works on a scale that provides a stepping stone between the national and the global – a vital role for the environment and sustainability. Europe must work harder to be more sustainable through:

  • Green Quantitative Easing (QE)
  • “Green QE” channels money directly into the green and low-carbon sector of the real economy
  • Corporate social responsibility (CSR) for real
  • Companies should be required to report on social and environmental risks and impacts, and not just their financial performance and outlook
  • Companies should be discouraged from short-termism in their decision-making through restricting shareholders’ voting rights to those who hold shares for a minimum period of at least a few years
  • Consumer behaviour change
  • Speaking about the environment and the economy together

How can solidarity in Europe be (re)created? Our model should be the Nordic welfare states, premised on progressive taxation funding universal benefits and services. The EU may have state-like qualities but it is a much more modest entity than a state. Yet, elements of ‘radical redistribution can be inserted into its architecture. The areas that present opportunities to cultivate solidarity are:

  • Jobs and wages
  • All adults in the union should be guaranteed employment, re-education/retraining or other (remunerated) social participation
  • European-wide minimum wage of 50% of average national income
  • Universal childcare across the union as a progressively introduced entitlement
  • Social Insurance
  • Every European citizen should be issued with their own social insurance card for protection when they move from state to state, like the European Heath Insurance Card

Few people believe that Europe is safe from a future financial crisis, or that the EU’s economy is performing as well as it could be. However, the EU can deliver reforms that would not be possible for individual countries:

  • Facilitate new business models and best practises to spread quickly
  • Promote a more diverse eco-system of bank business models in Europe
  • Establish a Europe-wide authority to regulate financial transactions, developing a more networked approach

The EU could also:

  • Require banks to fund themselves with more capital
  • Provide finance for a social purpose, for example, encouraging the development and use of local currencies

How does change happen?

When dreaming of our new vision for a Good Europe and fleshing out the policies that will help us get there we must consider how change happens. Making change happen is never simple or easy but when dealing with a set of transnational institutions it becomes very complex. We cannot simply look to one tactic, institution, party or ‘silver bullet’ policy.

The elements of making change happen include: changing the discourse, looking for opportunities and creating a European demos – a public sphere for European citizens to debate, discussion, decide and act.

Sovereignty has long escaped national borders and is never coming back. Power and politics have been separated. As tough as it is, we have to create transnational democratic, political and economic platforms.

 

Is Majority Rule fit for the 21st Century?

I listen to a lot of people, dedicated people, who are angry about what is happening to their country. They are sick of the behaviour of political leaders and the constant distressing news. The whole manner of political discourse is offensive to many people. There is massive disengagement from politics. People think there is nothing they can do. We have a government supported by only 24% of those eligible to vote, imposing ideological policies. Senseless cuts are impoverishing the country and delaying economic recovery, Government fails to create a strategy for a prosperous, sustainable economy that will benefit everyone throughout the whole country and not contribute to the destruction of planet Earth. The same is true in different ways and varying degrees all over the world.

Governing without a mandate In last year’s election, the Conservatives gained 51% of seats in the House of Commons with only 37% of the vote. 34% of those eligible to vote did not do so – compare with the 84.5% turnout in the Scottish referendum. Most votes were wasted. Of almost 31 million people who voted, 19 million (63% of the total) did so for losing candidates. Many of the MPs who won failed to get the support of most voters. Of 650 winning candidates, 322 (49%) got less than 50% of the vote in their constituency. Women and BAME (Black, Asian, and minority ethnic) are under-represented. First past the post leaves a vast number of people feeling unrepresented. This breeds powerlessness and disengagement. Widespread feelings of powerlessness are bad for a nation.

Proportional Representation Under Proportional Representation, the results in the 2015 election would have been (actual seats in brackets): Conservatives 244 (331) seats, Labour 201 (232), UKIP 83 (1), Lib Dem 52 (8), SNP 31(56), Green 25(1), minor parties 14 including Plaid Cymru 3. The Conservatives would still be the largest party, but 37% of votes should never equal 51% of seats in a real democracy.

Advantages to voters As the Electoral Reform Society says, with the Single Transferable Vote (STV) and multi-member constituencies, parties have an incentive to present a balanced team of candidates in order to maximise the number of higher preferences that would go to their sponsored candidates. This supports the advancement of women and ethnic-minority candidates, who are often overlooked in favour of a ‘safer’ looking candidate. It is a candidate-centred electoral system and encourages local campaigning and a strong constituency link. STV also offers voters a choice of representatives to approach with their concerns post-election, rather than just the one, who may not be at all sympathetic to their views, or may even be the cause of their concerns. That is an enormous advantage over the present situation in which many voters feel their views will not be taken into account by an MP not of their party choice. Proportional representation in local government would be good for voters whose chances of casting a ballot which elects their chosen representative would rise dramatically.Proportional representation in local government in England would be good for voters whose chances of casting faa ballot which elects their chosen representative would rise dramatically. In December 2015, pollsters BMG found that 57 per cent of the public agree with the principle that “the number of seats a party gets should broadly reflect its proportion of the total votes cast” – compared to only 9 per cent who disagree.

There is a real opportunity now after the most disproportionate election result in history.

A fair voting system is not enough. The UK cannot be described as a democracy while wealthy donors dominate parties and government is infiltrated by big corporations, many of which are larger than national economies.  Furthermore, democracy can only work when the electorate is well informed. Yet a predominantly right- wing press, mostly owned by wealthy individuals, misleads the public and leaves them ill-informed. People who want to be well-informed would do better to get their news and information from reliable think tanks.

It’s a condemnation of the political class that they have put party interests ahead of the nation’s and resisted reform for so long.

 Is majority rule appropriate in the 21st Century? We face the greatest challenges in human history: climate chaos; destruction of the ecosystem; growing economic injustice; millions of early deaths issues related to poverty, pollution, diet and unhealthy lifestyles; and the need to resolve conflict without violence – all interconnected. Humanity is confronted with the possibility of self-extinction.

Consensus government To meet these challenges we need collaborative, not adversarial, government. Like other species we need to evolve in order to survive. A fair democracy representing the nation’s full diversity is vital for engaging our collective intelligence and creativity in resolving the great issues of our time. In order to find effective long-term solutions, I believe it is axiomatic that we must “get the whole system into the room”. We need to embrace diversity and difference. We need consensus building rather than adversarial politics (politics is too important to be a smart debating performance). This, and a sense of fairness, is essential for a national wellbeing and a successful economy. We need as many people as possible to be committed and engaged. Enabling, transformative leadership is required to bring out the best in people. The same principles apply at the international level. Ultimately, failure to build consensus leads to violence and violence breeds more violence and chaos. That must be the lesson of recent world history.

Consensus design I am very interested in applying the principles of Consensus Desighttp://www.christopherday.eu/consensus-design practiced by architect Christopher Day to politics. His idea is that as an architect you go in with one view of what needs to be done but having listened to all the stakeholders you may come out with something completely different. Could we be heading in that direction?

Co-creating Change Currently we have government that is illiterate in many ways: some ministers do not understand how to lead people and engage them in co-creating change. This is one of the reasons why valuable staff become disillusioned, are leaving in droves and the crises are worsening in key services such as the health and education.

A 21st Century Magna Carta – A collaborative democracy

We need a clear vision of what a good democracy looks like. This is what we have to demand.

  • A written Constitution
  • A Citizen-led Convention to determine the Constitution.
  • Parliament to be the principal decision-making body of Government
  • First Minister as head of Government elected by Parliament as a whole
  • Proportional representation for national, regional and local government
  • 50:50 representation for women and proportionate representation for Black, Asian and ethnic minorities.
  • Devolution of power from Westminster to regions and local government
  • An elected reviewing chamber
  • ‘Total’ recall for all elected politicians
  • A cap on individual funding and complete disclosure
  • End the so-called “revolving door”
  • Votes from age 16
  • The Rights of Future Generations to be recognised

(Main sources Electoral Reform Society http://www.electoral-reform.org.uk/ Unlock Democracy http://www.unlockdemocracy.org/ and Green Party)

Clearly there are risks to party interests. But parties are likely to gain more support by being seen to do the right thing. People are yearning for political leaders who are visionary and strategic, putting the nation’s interests ahead of party advantage. How refreshing this will be.

At a practical level, thousands of ordinary people need to exercise their power and campaign for an alliance of progressive parties committed to introducing a new constitution in the next Parliament.

 Action

  • Lobby all parties demanding their commitment to comprehensive constitutional reform in the next Parliament.
  • Support the Electoral Reform Society, Unlock Democracy, The Citizens Assembly Project, Assemblies for Democracy, Make Votes Matter, Counting Women In, 5050 Parliament and Voice4 Change.
  • Support Polly Higgins’s campaign for the UN Ecocide law – the fifth crime against peace.
  • Join New Economics Foundation, Compass, Positive Money, Global Justice Now and Jubilee Debt Campaign. Subscribe to James Robertson’s inspiring Newsletter http://jamesrobertson.com/newsletter.htm
  • Use 38 Degrees and Avaaz to petition and lobby.

Bruce Nixon is an author, writer and speaker. He gives participative talks in communities, schools and at conferences. This article is based on Chapter 9 Transforming democracy in his new book The 21st Century Revolution – A Call to Greatness published by Acorn Independent Press.   https://brucenixonblog.wordpress.com/2016/01/14/the-21st-century-revolution-a-call-to-greatness/

We need a new Magna Carta to give power to the people

Summary

In the 21st Century we face the greatest challenges in human history. We are confronted with the possibility of self-extinction. To meet these challenges we need collaborative, not adversarial, government. Like other species we need to evolve in order to survive. Just as Britain inspired the world with Magna Carta, Britain now needs to work, alongside other nations, in developing a model democracy that will give power to people and inspire the world.

The greatest problem of our age is disempowerment – part of a political project to shift ordinary people out of power and out of politics, to leave them content to judge their identity by the brand of smart phone they rent.
Nick Dearden, Director, Global Justice Now

We face the greatest challenges in our history
They’re all interrelated:

  • The Environmental Crisis: Climate Chaos, Destruction of the Ecosystem and Pollution (Early death pa: World 9.5m, UK almost 30k, London nearly 9k.)
  • Growing Economic Injustice, fuelled by debt and the way money is created (UK is a Divided Nation: real wages have fallen by more than 8% between 2007 and 2014. Yet CEO pay has steadily risen. BP CEO, pay settlement £14m for one year despite losses.)
  • Resolving Conflict without Violence (More than 470,000 Syrians dead, 6.5m displaced, 12m in urgent need and 3m refugees. Europe has a huge migration crisis that is likely to grow, not only as a result of violence but also drought caused by climate chaos.)
  • Out-dated Democracy in urgent need of comprehensive constitutional reform
  • Leadership – the lack of it and, that key part, the need for “ordinary people” to inform and empower themselves.

The world is currently on a trajectory that leads to 3.6 to 4.5°C warming. If this continues it could prove fatal for the human race. The Agreement at COP 21 in Paris is just the start. 195 nations agreed a long-term goal, from 2050, to keep the increase in global average temperature to well below 2°C above pre-industrial levels and to pursue efforts to limit it to 1.5ºC. $100bn of annual climate finance will be provided to help poorer countries adapt to climate change and reduce their greenhouse gas emissions. There is a legally binding process to review and report on efforts to achieve national targets. The hard work of securing radically lower greenhouse gas emissions lies ahead. It remains to be seen what the short-sighted and environmentally illiterate UK government will do.

At the root of the environmental and economic crises is the belief in continuous growth, measured by GDP instead of wellbeing, as the measure of progress.

Anyone who believes exponential growth can go on forever in a finite world is either a madman or an economist. Kenneth Boulding

We need to live lightly on our planet. We’ve reached ‘peak stuff’ as Will Hutton says. There is enough for everybody. The problem is the way it’s distributed. Another major factor is that 97% of our money is created by the banks for profit. That incentivises banks to create debt that enables us to consume more. This system is a major cause of escalating property prices. Personal debt and irresponsible lending pose the risks of another financial collapse. Aid in the form of loans impoverishes poorer countries. Debt extracts wealth from Africa and has impoverished Greece.

Austerity and cuts to public services result in further indebtedness, needlessly damaging our society and causing huge suffering. People are dying as a result. Austerity has failed to eliminate the deficit. Moreover, this is a flawed policy goal. It is economic illiteracy. The goal should be wellbeing for all. All over Europe, in UK, Greece, Spain, Portugal, Ireland and Iceland, and in the Americas, the policies of the past thirty five years are being challenged, especially by younger people. Many people dislike the abusive and adversarial behaviour of political leaders. People want a better way. They want vision and hope. Ultimately violence is created when there is no hope. When people think it worthwhile, they come out in droves and vote as they did in the Scottish referendum.

Powerlessness is the biggest obstacle to progress. People frequently tell me they are angry about what is happening but there is nothing I can do. In the UK, they see an out of touch government without a mandate imposing extreme ideological policies on the nation whilst failing to grasp the opportunities to build a prosperous green economy that would benefit everyone. This is an outrage; we need to feel our anger and act. There are 7.3bn of us, 1% of them.

We are 21st century citizens, doing our best to interact with 19th century-designed institutions …. based on information technology of the 15th century… which has no dialogue capacity. Pia Mancini, DemocracyOS at TED Global 2014

Governing without a mandate Less than a quarter of the electorate backed the current government. The Conservatives gained 51% of seats in the House of Commons with the support of only 24% of those eligible to vote. 34% of those eligible to vote did not do so. Most votes were wasted. Of the almost 31 million people who voted, 19 million voted for losing candidates. 63% backed a candidate that didn’t win. Many of the MPs who won failed to get the support of most voters. Of 650 winning candidates, 322 (49%) got less than 50% of the vote in their constituency. Women and BAME (Black, Asian, and minority ethnic) are still under-represented. First past the post leaves a vast number of people feeling unrepresented. It breeds powerlessness and disengagement. That is a fundamental issue.

Unrepresentative government obstructs the resolution of the big issues. The UK cannot be described as an effective democracy with an unrepresentative government heavily influenced by corporations who infiltrate government through the “revolving door” and party funding bribery. Democracy can only work when the electorate are well informed. Yet a predominantly right- wing press, owned by very wealthy individuals, misleads the public and leaves them ill-informed.

Proportional Representation Under Proportional Representation (such as the Single Transferable Vote STV system) the results in the 2015 election would have been (actual in brackets): Conservatives 244 (331) seats, Labour 201 (232), UKIP 83 (1), Lib Dem 52 (8), SNP 31(56), Green 25(1), minor parties 14. The Conservatives would still be the largest party, but 37% of votes should never equal 51% of seats in a real democracy. It’s a condemnation of the political class that they have resisted reform for so long.

Is majority rule appropriate in the 21st Century given the challenges facing the world?

A fair democracy representing the nation’s full diversity is vital for resolving the great issues of our time. I believe it is axiomatic that we must get the whole system “into the room” in order to find effective solutions. We need to embrace diversity and difference. We need consensus building rather than adversarial politics. This, a sense of fairness, is also essential for people’s wellbeing. We need as many people as possible to be committed and engaged. Enabling, transformative leadership is required to bring out the best in people. The same principles apply at the international level.  Ultimately, failure to build consensus leads to violence. That must be the lesson of recent world history. We need consensus rule.

A 21st Century Magna Carta – A collaborative democracy

  • A written Constitution
  • A Citizen-led Convention to determine the Constitution.
  • Parliament to be the principal decision-making body of Government
  • First Minister as head of Government elected by Parliament as a whole
  • Proportional representation for national, regional and local government
  • 50:50 representation for women and proportionate representation for Black, Asian and ethnic minorities.
  • Devolution of power from Westminster to regions and local government
  • An elected reviewing chamber
  • ‘Total’ recall for all elected politicians
  • A cap on individual funding and complete disclosure
  • End the so-called “revolving door”
  • Votes from age 16
  • The Rights of Future Generations to be recognisedMain source Electoral Reform Society http://www.electoral-reform.org.uk/ and Unlock Democracy http://www.unlockdemocracy.org/ )

Conclusion In the 21st Century we face the greatest challenges in human history. We are confronted with the possibility of self-extinction. To meet these challenges we need collaborative, not adversarial, government. Like other species we need to evolve in order to survive. Just as Britain inspired the world with Magna Carta, Britain now needs to work, alongside other nations, in developing a model democracy that will give power to people and inspire the world.

At a practical level, “ordinary people” need to exercise their power and lobby for an alliance of progressive parties committed to introducing a new constitution in the next Parliament by means of a Citizens Assembly http://citizensassembly.co.uk/home-page/about/ and not behind closed doors.

 Action

  • Lobby all parties demanding their commitment to comprehensive constitutional reform in the next Parliament.
  • Support the Electoral Reform Society, Unlock Democracy, The Citizens Assembly Project, Make Votes Matter, Counting Women In, 5050Parliament and Voice4 Change.
  • Support Polly Higgins’s campaign for the UN Ecocide law – the fifth crime against peace.Join New Economics Foundation, Compass, Positive Money, Global Justice Now and Jubilee Debt Campaign. Subscribe to James Robertson’s inspiring Newsletter http://jamesrobertson.com/newsletter.htm
  • Use 38 Degrees and Avaaz to petition and lobby.

Bruce Nixon is an author and writer; he gives participative talks. This article is based on Chapter 9 in his new book The 21st Century Revolution – A Call to Greatness published by Acorn Independent Press.   https://brucenixonblog.wordpress.com/2016/01/14/the-21st-century-revolution-a-call-to-greatness/

 

The 21st Century Revolution – A Call to Greatness

This book is for people all over the world who want to prevent environmental catastrophe and create a happier, fairer, more peaceful world. It will help readers make sense of the situation, find solutions and decide how to participate in bringing about the radical changes that are needed.

 The greatest challenges in human history
Lime Walk

  • Climate Chaos and Destruction of the Eco-system
  • Growing Economic Injustice
  • Resolving Conflict without Violence and Valuing Difference
  • Radical Reform of out-dated Democracy
  • And, that key part, the need for “ordinary people” to inform and empower themselves.

All these are interrelated; everything is connected. For instance the tragedy of mass migration results from this mix. So this book offers whole system analysis and whole system solutions.

 We need a revolution If the human race is to prevent environmental catastrophe, we need a revolution, a peaceful one. The economic system has to be transformed. That includes the way most of our money is created through debt. This is driving unsustainable growth and systematically transfers wealth from those who create it to a super-rich elite who get richer whilst the rest of us get poorer. In short we are being colonised.

In the UK, a government without a mandate (supported by under 24 percent of eligible voters), is imposing ideological policies on the nation. They are destroying what many hold dear whilst failing to tackle the biggest threats or grasp the opportunities to build a prosperous green economy that would benefit everyone. This is an outrage; we need to feel it.

Austerity is economic illiteracy. It is political ideology, not sound economics. All over Europe, in Greece, Spain, Portugal, Ireland and Iceland, the economic policies of the past thirty five years are being challenged, especially by younger people; so is the way we have done politics for the past seventy years. People want a better way. They dislike the abusive behaviour of many politicians. A new politics is emerging.

The challenges are enormous. So are the opportunities. Change is in the wind. It springs out of vision and hope. The book provides both. When great shifts come, they tend to come fast; the old order collapses. Remember the fall of the Berlin wall.

Yet radical new proposals, large scale events and campaigns involving thousands go largely unreported in the mainstream media. There is so much positive news that the conventional media doesn’t give us. This will be remedied in this book.

A Call to Greatness At a time of great danger, where will great leaders come from, people with the stature of those who served the world after World War 2? Today it will be a different kind of leadership: leadership that inspires and transforms by enabling “ordinary” people. Everyone needs to dare to be great.

Amongst the biggest obstacles to change is the feeling “there is nothing we can do”. An outdated political system that disenfranchises many people, and in which women are still grossly underrepresented, encourages this belief. For powerful vested interests to be overcome, millions of people need to use their power. We saw how people in Scotland came out in droves when they thought it worth voting. A 21st Century Magna Carta, a comprehensive written constitution, is needed to enable people to exercise their power. Chapter 9 offers proposals for comprehensive democratic reform.

The title of the first chapter is I listen to a lot of people in all walks of life. It was listening to people that decided me that the book must be written. The rest of the book emerged from there.

Published by Acorn Independent Publishing: £9.99 paperback; £4-99 e-book. Order from your local bookshop or via the following link: http://www.brucenixon.com/index.html Have a look at my Home Page http://www.brucenixon.com/index.html I think you will find it beautiful – Nature conveys a message.

The 21st Century Revolution - A Call to Greatness Book Cover

Endorsements

 This is a book jam-packed with solutions – hurrah! And, it all starts with the self; great change calls on each of us to step up and respond to the call of greatness. Whether it be changing our politics, our monetary system, our laws, our business ethics – at the heart of each resides something truly great. Bruce Nixon brings to life not only what is possible, what is already emerging, and also what could yet come into being. Polly Higgins, Barrister, International Ecocide law advocate.

 This is an amazing book – not just because it tells us what’s wrong with our society and how to put it right – but because it is full of hope and love for people and our planet.  The world is a better place for The 21st Century Revolution – A Call to Greatness and its author Bruce Nixon – the book inspires me to help make the 21st century revolution happen. Neal Lawson, Chair of Compass.

A fascinating read and a really good contribution to the debate about the future of democracy. Katie Ghose, Chief Executive, Electoral Reform Society

The greatest problem of our age is disempowerment – part of a political project to shift ordinary people out of power and out of politics, to leave them content to judge their identity by the brand of smart phone they rent. Bruce Nixon lays out the fullest dimension of this disempowerment and its fatal consequences. But he also outlines a way out; a way for all of us to become real citizens in a real democracy. The call to greatness not only refers to our own personal liberation from the shackles of disempowerment, but to the scale of the collective endeavour it will allow us to embark on – saving our species. It doesn’t get much bigger. Nick Dearden, Director, Global Justice Now.

Read this excellent analysis of what’s gone wrong, take heart and fight for positive change! Yvonne Roberts, Journalist and Fellow of the Young Foundation

Don’t despair – read this book! We can have a new economic system that works for people and planet, if enough of us meet the current (huge) challenges head-on and summon the greatness that each of us are capable of.  Bruce Nixon brilliantly sets out a course of action and hope. Stewart Wallis, Executive Director, New Economics Foundation

We need to be both planning for a better world and actively setting out a route towards it. That needs the input of the many – and the democratic focus of this book is very much welcome, as is its understanding that our economic, social and environmental crises – and the solutions to them – are interlinked. Natalie Bennett, Leader, Green Party of England and Wales

Bruce highlights the harmful consequences of our debt-based money system and the need to change the way money is created. Ben Dyson, Founder of Positive Money.

 Bruce’s book is a comprehensive account of the social and political obstacles standing between us and a more sustainable future. In response to that, he proposes a collective approach, and that’s absolutely right – if we want change, people power is going to be at the heart of it. Dale Vince, Ecotricity Founder

This is an important and timely book and will be of great interest to trade unionists fighting austerity and inequality. The focus on a sustainable economy and good green jobs is particularly welcome. At a time of rising social, economic and environmental injustice, this book gives ordinary working people hope that a better, fairer future can be within our grasp. Frances O’Grady, General Secretary, TUC