Leadership for the 21st Century

The Challenges and Opportunities

The challenges facing leaders at the end of World War 2 were very different from those facing Britain today. Britain still had a vast empire and was a world power, though deeply in debt as a result of war. It was bankrupt. The industrial economy was exhausted. There was a huge need for housing, and the nation had to be better fed. Women, who had played a very large part in the war effort, had yet to exert their influence on politics. The state had an all-powerful role in addressing these challenges. There was a national consensus about the need for a social security system. Clement Attlee led the introduction of a social settlement that became a model for the Western world.

Now we need a different kind of settlement to which we consent and leadership that is not only transformative but enabling.

Today’s challenges are very different: climate chaos and destruction of the ecosystem, growing economic injustice, mass migration resulting from climate change, poverty, and civil war, and the need to resolve conflict without violence. We have learned from the disastrous consequences of military intervention in Iraq. Cyber interventions are a new threat. And we are at the beginning of the fourth industrial revolution.  Also we live in a far more diverse society.

Humanity uses the equivalent of 1.6 Earths in one year to provide the resources we use and absorb our waste. We use more ecological resources and services than nature can regenerate, through overfishing, overharvesting forests, and emitting more carbon dioxide into the atmosphere than forests can sequester (Global Footprint Network ).

Austerity continues to do immense harm. It is widely recognised that free market capitalism and neoliberal policies, the dominant ideology of the past thirty years, have failed to deliver prosperity and wellbeing for all. Instead it is system that extracts wealth from those who create it and delivers it to the 1 percent and from poor to rich nations. Debt created by the banks, profiting from supplying 97 percent of our money, plays a major part in this transfer of wealth (Positive Money)

 The scientific and technological revolution, comprising artificial intelligence, the internet of things, robotics and 4-D printing, could bring enormous benefits. Equally it could result in massive unemployment and transfer even more wealth and power to a new elite. It is the role of the state to ensure outcomes that benefit humanity as a whole.

Arguably the greatest threat to our survival is our capacity to commit mass suicide by destroying our habitat on Spaceship Earth (Anthropocene ) or through nuclear war.

There is a constant stream of deeply shocking and depressing news. Yet, in reality there is far more that is positive; the prevailing energy in the world is love. It is said that we live in the most peaceful era in history.

However many people are angry and disaffected. They feel they have little control over their lives, are unrepresented and left behind (NEF). The NHS is being dismantled without their consent (Independent) and Campaign for the NHS Reinstatement Bill . They are fed up with ideological politics, parties at war with themselves and the abusive behaviour of politicians towards each other. The tradition of combative debate rather than constructive, respectful, dialogue is furthered by the ancient arrangement of opposing seats in the House of Commons.

The Age of Anger ( Guardian ). Clearly human beings are not wholly rational, nor are they wholly good. This is particularly evident in Syria and when a torrent of protest has been unleashed all over the West. As Satish Kumar says in his guided meditation, “All opposites complement and make the whole” (Youtube). We need a new philosophy( Resurgence) . We must go beyond self-interest and embrace the idea of mutual interest.

There is no shortage of solutions. It is the lack of far-sighted strategic leadership that gets in the way. The people of Britain succeed despite poor government. Britain is a good place to do business, partly because of the rule of law. There is boundless creativity, resourcefulness and entrepreneurship. Communities are solving their own problems, and more will do so given enlightened support. Power and resources need to be devolved to regions, cities, towns and communities under the principle of subsidiarity

Given all these challenges and opportunities, the need for radical reform of our out-dated democracy is overdue. A government voted for by only 24 percent of the electorate has no mandate and cannot represent the UK as a whole. Proportional representation is the first essential. To bring this about a Progressive Alliance is needed. Progressives all over Europe need to communicate, discuss and exchange ideas in the coming years.

New Politics in the Age of Consent

In The Age of Consent Helena Kennedy QC explores the key idea of consent in our politics, law, media and digital lives.

Have we, a diverse United Kingdom of nations and very different regions and cities, young people and old, really given our consent to Brexit? And what about those who did not vote – the not heard? Did we have the necessary information to give our consent? Did the state discharge its responsibility? Especially, when consent needs to be informed and much of the essential information will emerge over the next two years. People cannot yet have a full understanding of what is in front of them. When the full consequences of Brexit becomes clear, a courageous leader might decide to consult the public again through a second referendum and be prepared to help the nation do a U-turn. Brexit is such a diversion of energy when there are far more urgent priorities to address.

Over the years, the parties have not listened to the diverse concerns and needs of people in different parts of the UK. Westminster was and is seen as out of touch. Similar patterns emerged all over Europe and in USA. The EU is inflexible and will have to change itself. Mainstream politics and economics have not adapted to the consequences of globalisation and the extractive process mentioned above. Whilst globalisation has taken millions out of poverty it has destroyed many jobs in Western nations and created generations of joblessness in some communities. Parties need to be democratised. The new political party must aim to represent the full diversity of people in UK if we are to be a nation at ease with itself.

The Electoral Reform Society’s report Open Up: the future of the political party  argues that political parties need to be far more democratic.

 New Political Leadership

Above all Britain needs to be offered a unifying strategic vision that will address the nation’s problems many of which have persisted for years. Brexiters and Remainers both fail to grasp the challenges facing Britain 

Leadership in an age of complexity needs to be transformative and enabling. In the article Leadership in an age of complexity Meg Wheatley says leaders need to move from being heroes to hosts, from patriarchs to enablers.  Leaders need to be listeners; they need to listen to people in their organisations. Time and time again I hear people who work in organisations say “If only they would listen to us”. Political parties, through their MPs, need to listen to the wide variety of people in their constituencies, not just those who vote for them. Government also needs to listen and involve all stakeholders, those working on the ground, like teachers and health practitioners, and relevant think tanks.

Transformative, enabling leaders require presence, not charisma. Charisma can be dangerous as we know from examples of narcissistic or psychopathic leaders. They need to be experts in enabling people. Leaders need to involve people in creating their future. People support what they co-create . They need to get the whole system into the room in developing policies. It is folly to do otherwise. The state of Labour illustrates the need for the leadership to help the party focus on common ground.

Political leaders need to enable people to build shared vision and policy. To do so they must embrace difference and diversity, and value both crusading forces and restraining forces. Political leaders with integrity have a duty to put the long-term interests of the nation before the short term interests of the party. They need to make their organisations learning organisations. They have a responsibility to educate the nation and themselves and admit when they were wrong without being jeered at. There is no shame in changing one’s mind as someone seeking to learn must do. They need to be  Servant Leaders   also in UK

So what are the implications for the Labour Party? No party has a monopoly of wisdom. An effective opposition is vital in a democracy. The Labour party is tearing itself apart. In his article Why Corbyn’s leadership is being judged neither prematurely nor by the wrong standards Erick Shaw says its leader’s poll ratings are worse than for any comparable leader in British polling history.

“This mode of leadership requires a shrewed eye for opportunity, a good hand at bargaining, persuading, reciprocating. It demands an orientation to leadership governed by the ethic of responsibility, incorporating an open and conciliatory style of engagement, a capacity to modulate personal and political ambitions by patient calculation and realistic appraisal of situations and an overriding emphasis upon the importance of reaching consensus and coalition-building. It involves accommodating public opinion with membership preferences, regulating disagreements, astute political maneuvering and a capacity, above all, to hold the party together. Corbyn has merits – decency, honesty, integrity – but it is not at all evident that concept of leadership is what the party requires.”

Labour needs a leader with high credibility both within the party and amongst the public. Without that there is no chance of uniting the party. However, to be optimistic, the chances are that out of the current chaos, given the demands of supporters and others, leadership such as Winston Churchill and Clement Attlee provided after Dunkirk will emerge.

So, what can you do? Here are some suggestions:

  • Collaboration works. Above all get involved in the Progressive Alliance movements in UK and elsewhere
  • Lobby all parties demanding their commitment to comprehensive constitutional reform in the next Parliament.
  • Support Compass – together for a good society, the Electoral Reform Society, Unlock Democracy, The Citizens Assembly Project, Assemblies for Democracy, Make Votes Matter, Counting Women In, 5050 Parliament, Women’s Equality and Voice4 Change and Polly Higgins’s campaign for the UN Ecocide law – the fifth crime against peace, National Health Action Party, Save our NHS, Campaign for the NHS Reinstatement Bill.
  • Subscribe to the blog posts of the London School of Economics British Politics and Policy , New Economics Foundation, Compass- together for a good society, Positive Money, Global Justice Now and Jubilee Debt Campaign and James Robertson’s  Newsletter Visit Robert Greenleaf Servant Leadership UK
  • Use 38 Degrees, Change.org and Avaaz to petition and lobby.

Ways of Creating Common Ground

Citizens Assemblies are needed for both creating a new British constitution and a new Social and Economic Settlement- see Citizens Assemblies and We Can do Politics Differently in the UK .

Useful processes

Among these are:

 Bruce Nixon is an author, writer, speaker and activist. He gives participative talks in communities, universities, colleges, schools and at conferences. His most recent book The 21st Century Revolution – A Call to Greatness which offers a new strategic vision for Britain. His Blog and other books may be found at http://www.brucenixon.com/

We need a revolution in how we do politics: Getting the whole system into the room

SUMMARY

We have a dysfunctional democracy that adversely affects almost every aspect of our lives. and leads to bad decisions. We are failing to respond to the most important and urgent challenges facing us: the environment, economic and social injustice and a stagnant, unbalanced economy. We are a divided nation terms of prosperity, wellbeing and health. There is a huge gap between the City and South East and the rest of the country. Dysfunctional democracy prevails in Europe and throughout the world. Nor are we playing an effective part in the challenges facing the world: the environmental crisis, poverty, violent conflict and mass migration that can only grow.  Failure could lead to human extinction. The biggest lesson is that we need to embrace difference.

We have a unique opportunity to create a new democracy that could a model for the world. We are in situation of creative chaos. Our antiquated democracy needs to be transformed. At the end of WW 2, exceptionally gifted leaders created an astonishingly enlightened post-war settlement and institutions, not only for Britain but for the World. Amongst these leaders were Franklin D. Roosevelt, John Maynard Keynes, Winston Churchill, George C. Marshall and Clement Attlee. The challenges facing the World today are even greater. We face the possibility of human extinction. In the UK, we need a new kind of leadership, new a ways of involving people and a new constitution. This article offers proposals.

Brexit was a huge protest vote. The message is clear: Westminster needs to listen to all citizens. Neither of the two main parties had really listened to responded to the diverse concerns and needs of people in different parts of the country. The result was a huge protest vote. There are similar messages from people all over Europe and the USA. Ultimately if people feel unheard and unrepresented, it can lead to violence as we see in Syria with appalling consequences and recently in Turkey. I am not suggesting that is likely here. Brexit will be a huge distraction and diversion of resources from far more important and urgent issues. This flawed referendum was the wrong process for dealing with such a vitally important and complex issue (partly motivated by party as opposed to national interests). (Prospect Magazine articles on Brexit are especially illuminating, including Welcome to New Britain – The referendum was the start of a national re-alignment of British politics http://www.prospectmagazine.co.uk/features/welcome-to-new-britain-rachel-sylvester-eu-referendum ) and the articles that follow.

 

People want a different kind of politics. Our politics is adversarial when collaboration is needed. Adversarial politics is not working. Parties focus on winning elections and pander to the ill-informed rather than providing far- sighted leadership. Parties put self-interest before  national interests.

 

Both Labour and Tory parties are riven by conflict. Neither is effectively responding to or uniting their diverse membership. At the moment Labour, tearing itself apart, is unable to fulfil its role as the official Opposition. Both parties need to respond to what the public, especially younger and more progressive people, are telling them.  Such people dislike an adversarial, often abusive, approach. Jeremy Corbyn who has engaged huge numbers of new members has been trying to respond to that. Sadly this behaviour continues: Owen Smith and Jeremy Corbyn are in conflict.  And “Trot” and “looney left” do not go down well. Whoever wins in the leadership election is unlikely to satisfy all members. If Jeremy Corbyn is re-elected, probably by an even larger margin before a split between the crusading and restraining forces seems likely. That will not be win/win for Labour but might benefit the nation.

The first past the post voting system and belief in so-called majority rule led to a government, backed by less than 24 percent of those eligible to vote, inflicting extreme Neoliberal policies on the nation. Osborne’s harsh austerity regime would not have been possible but for this deficiency. Austerity continues to delay economic recovery, harms almost everyone except the very rich and damages every aspect of our society. Majority rule results in bad decisions and leaves at least half the public angry, frustrated and disengaged.

 

The first and most important requirement is to end first past the post and replace it with proportional representation. (Alternative Vote was not PR – a senseless proposal that was rightly rejected).  Already there are moves to bring this about through an alliance of MPs: Labour, Lib/Dem, SNP and Green, even some Tories. As Katie Ghose says in a new book, The Alternative: Towards a New Progressive Politics, https://www.bitebackpublishing.com/books/the-alternative Britain is not just the only country in Europe to use First Past the Post for national elections –in fact, England is now the only nation of the UK to use it for its main elections. She also points out that Proportional Representation would enable the main strands of public opinion to be represented throughout the country.

A National Constitutional Convention Green MEP Molly Scott Cato says one of the ideas being talked about is a National Constitutional Convention to bring citizens and politicians together to discuss the democratic future of the UK. Given the time it will take to agree a new relationship with the EU, now seems the ideal time for communities to discuss our future outside, or indeed inside, the EU. Such a process could genuinely help to heal the deep and painful divisions that were created and exacerbated during the referendum campaign. We need to create opportunities to introduce fully participatory processes to inform and decide on the many important and far-reaching decisions about our post-Brexit shared future with the rest of Europe.

A new kind of political leadership is needed in the 21st Century – a transformative, enabling leadership that embraces the full diversity of the nation. We also need to adopt the principle of involving all stakeholders in bringing about change. Surely the lesson of the past thirty years is: Imposed change does not work.  Many initiatives imposed by successive governments failed because people “on the ground” were not properly involved from the start. Many dedicated people have become exhausted and alienated. They have chosen other work, adding to existing shortages of skilled people and the pressures on already overburdened organisations. The latest example is Jeremy Hunt’s attempt to impose a seven day week on junior doctors.

From Hero to Host Our concept of leadership needs to move From Hero to Host – a leadership that enables people to empower themselves, releasing their creative energy and, by resolving conflict, the power of love. Servant Leadership We also need to embed servant leadership throughout society, especially in the corporate wold. Margaret Wheatley expands this in her article From Hero to Host  http://margaretwheatley.com/library/articles/leadership-in-age-of-complexity/

 

Get the whole system into the room and involve all stakeholders. This is an essential principle for creating change in any aspect of society. This approach builds consensus in creating solutions that work and meet everyone’s needs. Likewise leaders of political parties and members need to value difference, recognise the importance of “getting the whole system into the room”. Future Search https://www.amazon.co.uk/Future-Search-Getting-System-Commitment/dp/1605094285 is an excellent approach for building consensus on the best way forward.

Consensus Design Another approach is Consensus Design  http://www.christopherday.eu/consensus-design. In essence this enables people to listen to each other with respect and reach consensus. They come “into the room” with one view of what needs to be done and by listening with respect, instead of trying to win the argument, they come to a different and far better solution.

Many of these approaches are described my book Making a Difference: Strategies and Tools for Transforming Your Organisation

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Making-Difference-Strategies-Transforming-Ornisation/dp/1852523727

So, what can you do? Here are some suggestions:

  • First and foremost support the campaign for a Progressive Alliance https://www.compassonline.org.uk/
  • 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 Count, Counting Women In, 5050 Parliament and Voice4 Change.
  • Support Client Earth and 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.
  • Read Robert Greenleaf Servant Leadership http://www.greenleaf.org.uk/about.php.

Bruce Nixon is an author, writer and speaker. He gives participative talks in communities, schools and at conferences. There is more about transforming politics in Chapter 9 Transforming democracy in his recent book The 21st Century Revolution – A Call to Greatness   http://www.brucenixon.com/21stCenturyRevolution.html

Lessons from Brexit

“Brexit is the will of the British people.” This oft repeated mantra is simplistic and grossly misleading. Is it designed by repetition to bamboozle the British people or convince the Prime Minister and her colleagues that they are doing the right thing?

 

Democracy is in crisis. This episode in our history illustrates that there is something seriously wrong with the way Britain does politics. A new approach is needed; proportional representation and a new written constitution are required. Many people hate adversarial politics and want politicians to work together. Nearly half the population are opposed to Brexit. Many feel deeply depressed and powerless. And that applies to so many government policies. It is not a healthy state for a nation to be in. Austerity, imposed by a government backed by less than 24 percent of those eligible to vote, that is 76 percent did not vote Tory, continues to damage our society and undermines the wellbeing of thousands of people. This contrasts with the post-war situation from 1945 to 1951 when there was a national consensus on the introduction of the Welfare State that became a model for the world.

We now see a similar situation in USA. Americans are split 50; 50. Many Americans are filled with horror at what Trump stands for, what he is already doing and what he may do next.

Brexit should be stopped in its tracks.

 

The nation is deeply divided about Brexit. The facts are that of the record number who voted, 51.9% voted for Brexit and 48.1% voted for Remain a difference of only 3.8%. Is this an adequate mandate for fundamental changes that may have devastating consequences? Would a supermajority requirement, such as a two-thirds majority be more appropriate?  Furthermore, only 37% of the 46 million electorate voted for Brexit. Young people will be most affected by the outcomes of Brexit. Yet 16 to 17 year olds, large numbers of whom were in favour of Remain, were not eligible to vote – something that needs to be changed as soon as possible. Scotland and other parts of the UK are strongly in favour of Remain; others do not know. However many Remain voters have considerable concerns about the EU. For more details see the New Economics Foundation’s We polled Remain voters – this is what they told us

New Economics Foundation’s report Brexit is not the will of the British people. It never has been casts further light on the reality: “The difference between leave and remain was 3.8 percent or 1.3 million in favour of Leave. However, in a close analysis, virtually all the polls show that the UK electorate wants to remain in the EU, and has wanted to remain since referendum day. Moreover, according to predicted demographics, the UK will want to remain in the EU for the foreseeable future”.

The referendum process was flawed. It was only advisory and the government had no obligation to act on the outcome, especially when it was so close. Many argue that a binary yes no referendum was inappropriate for such a complex issue. Much more time was needed. Was it more about party politics than the interests of the nation? Some senior politicians and newspapers were irresponsible and made false claims. The Electoral Reform Society exposes its flaws and puts forward proposals for future referendums.

 

Now that people are far better informed about the economic consequences of our withdrawing from the EU, many of those who voted for Brexit would now not do so. Economist Iain Begg, from the London School of Economics said the results exposed the shortcomings of using referenda in complex policy choices. “The finding that a sizeable proportion of Leave voters now regret their decision, coming barely one hundred days after June 23, highlights the shortcomings of using referenda to make policy choices on issues as complex as membership of the EU,” he told the Independent:If EU referendum was held again Remain would win due to ‘Bregret’, official figures reveal

Another post by Adrian Low reveals that “only two YouGov polls support a majority in favour of Leave was right, the other eleven polls have all indicated that the will of the UK is that it should remain in the EU. Such unpalatable poll results have been left unreported or occasionally inaccurately reported.” 

 

Strategic leadership is needed. The whole story from the time David Cameron tried to negotiate a deal with EU leaders is an example of the need for strategic leadership and whole system thinking. Britain has been half in; half out. It was totally unrealistic to imagine he could achieve his goals in such a short time. Clearly the EU requires fundamental reform and British citizens’ discontents are just one example of those in 27 countries who want change. David Cameron missed an opportunity to adopt a constructive approach by working with European colleagues in bringing about reform. It seems that Theresa May is adopting the same adversarial approach. And the British people will suffer the consequences with their European counterparts. We need to come to terms with the fact that it is no longer Great Britain, no longer a global power, but a small nation that needs to work as part of Europe with which we have so much in common. Otherwise we delude ourselves. Brexit makes this harder.

 

The first step in bringing about fundamental change is relationship building. Instead of returning without a deal, the British prime minister should have worked long term in bringing about reform. Britain needed to work with its European colleagues in developing common ground, creating consensus on what needs to be changed and a common vision of a better Europe.

Brexit was a multiple protest. It is now clear that underneath Brexit were deep seated problems like joblessness and living in destressed communities some going back for generations. To tackle these issues a whole system approach is needed: tinkering with symptoms when a system is flawed invariably fails. Reforming the EU may be part of the solution but the danger is that Brexit will be a huge diversion of time and energy. We have far more work to do in putting our own house in order.

Fundamental issues confront Britain and Europe: Power is shifting away from the West. China will be the dominant power. Russia becomes a threat to peace. The threat of cyberattacks from hostile nations, terrorists and criminals grows. The global economy is transforming.  The scientific and technological revolution, including advances in medicine, robots and artificial intelligence (AI), has the potential to bring great benefits to humanity but equally could have disastrous effects on the lives of ordinary people and further concentrate wealth and power in the hands of the few. Of course the biggest threats to humanity are the environmental crisis and nuclear war.

 

Globalisation has lifted many people out of poverty but it has also brought hardship to many in the West. There is a rebellion against the neoliberal policies of the past thirty years. Austerity and debt creation form an extractive system that transfers wealth from those who create it to the already rich elite. In Europe, wealth is systematically extracted from the South and transferred to the North. As a result populist leaders are emerging all over Europe. Finally there is the issue of mass migration which is likely to grow massively over coming years as people flee from violence in failed states and countries like Africa become uninhabitable as the planet warms.  Of course the biggest threats to humanity are the environmental crisis and nuclear war both of which could wipe us out.

For all these reasons Britain needs to stand together with Europe and the United Nations.

Ways forward Theresa May must involve the British People. Brexit is not a foregone conclusion. “Brexit is the will of the British people” needs to be challenged by the British people. Parliament must have the final say, insist that Brexit options are on the table before invoking article 50 and a second referendum may be needed.  MPs need to consult their constituents. Citizens Assemblies  should be used to help members become better informed, listen to eachother and then make up their minds. In his blog, Taking back control: Why voters need a say on Brexit plans deputy chief executive of the Electoral Reform Society Darren Hughes, argues that Theresa May really could ‘bring the country together’ through Citizens Assemblies . “But it will require everyone having a stake in the process – and feeling like a ‘people’s Brexit’ really does come from the people”.

The public need a say on where power will lie after Brexit In this post Katie Ghose, Chief Executive Electoral Reform Society argues “So Theresa May has fleshed has fleshed out her plans for Britain leaving the EU and becoming an independent self-governing nation. With more detail emerging about the economic plan, it’s time to look at the democratic implications….Serious thinking about democracy can all too often get left behind and the public shut out of these debates, as we’ve seen with English devolution. How our democracy actually takes shape after Brexit goes beyond the two year window of negotiations, and has to mean the public having a strong say. After all, it would be ironic given the strong focus on ‘where power lies’ during the campaign (summed up in the powerful slogan ‘take back control’) if this wasn’t a strong focus”.

Conclusion The biggest lesson is that adversarial politics does not work. Human beings must learn to respect and value difference and use it to build solutions that work. We see the consequences of failing to do this most tragically in failed states that have descended into violence and inhumanity. Consensus Design is the way forward.

So the final outcome of the current trauma could be a profoundly more democratic Britain and Europe.

Please note: this article is a much enlarged and updated version of a previous article

“Brexit is the will of the British people.” Oh, really?

Bruce Nixon is an author, writer and speaker. He gives participative talks in communities, universities schools and at conferences. His most recent book is The 21st Century Revolution – A Call to Greatness   

“Brexit is the will of the British people.” Oh, really?

“Brexit is the will of the British people.” Oh, really? This Mantra is grossly misleading.

The facts are that of those who voted, 51.9% voted for Brexit and 48.1% voted for Remain. However only 37% of the 46 million registered electorate voted for Brexit. Brexit is not the will of the British people – it never has been.  Young people will be most affected by the outcomes of Brexit. Yet 16 to 17 year olds, a large numbers of whom were in favour of Remain, were not eligible to vote.

The UK as a whole is deeply divided on the issue, Scotland and other different parts of the UK being strongly in favour of Remain – See the New Economics Foundation’s report for more details.

The referendum process was flawed. Much more time was needed. Many argue that a referendum was inappropriate for such a complex issue. Some senior politicians and newspapers were irresponsible and made false claims. The Electoral Reform Society exposes its flaws and their report puts forward proposals for future referendums.

Now that people are far better informed about the economic consequences of our withdrawing from the EU, many of those who voted for Brexit would now not do so. Economist Iain Begg, from the London School of Economics, said the results exposed the shortcomings of using referenda in complex policy choices. “The finding that a sizeable proportion of Leave voters now regret their decision, coming barely one hundred days after June 23, highlights the shortcomings of using referenda to make policy choices on issues as complex as membership of the EU,” he told The Independent.

Another post by Adrian Low reveals that “only two YouGov polls support a majority in favour of Leave was right, the other eleven polls have all indicated that the will of the UK is that it should remain in the EU. Such unpalatable poll results have been left unreported or occasionally inaccurately reported.”

The Mantra “Brexit is the will of the British people” needs to be challenged by the British people. Parliament must have the final say and another referendum may be needed.  Citizens Conventions which help people become better informed, listen to others and then make up their minds, can make a valuable contribution to resolving this issue.

Bruce Nixon is an author, writer and speaker. He gives participative talks in communities, universities schools and at conferences. His most recent book is The 21st Century Revolution – A Call to Greatness   http://www.brucenixon.com/21stCenturyRevolution.html

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/