The case for a second poll grows by the day.

Here is a valuable article by Peter Kellner, published in the New European, 24 November 2018

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The People’s Vote March to demand a final say on the Brexit deal. (Photo by Nicola Tree/Getty Images)

Leading pollster PETER KELLNER on the inexorable logic driving calls for a People’s vote.

Here is a thought experiment. Imagine that the Brexit referendum two years ago had weighted each vote by age. That is, the votes of 20 year-olds, with more than 60 years (on average) still to live, would have six time the weight of retired people with a life expectancy of ten more years. It would reflect the fact that the outcome of the current Brexit saga will affect young voters for far longer than those in their seventies or eighties.

Before anyone shrieks against this exercise in outrageous ageism, I am not actually proposing a change in the laws on referendums. But, as a theoretical exercise, it makes an important point. We know that young voters are overwhelmingly opposed to Brexit, while older voters voted two-to-one to leave the EU.

I have taken YouGov’s analysis of the referendum result by the age of its respondents. My estimate is that such an age-weighted recalculation of the vote would have produced not a 52-48% majority for Brexit, but a clear majority, approaching 60-40%, for staying in the EU.

Back to reality: one person one vote – regardless of age – is, rightly, here to stay. But even on that basis, we are rapidly approaching the day when the declared result of the 2016 referendum can be called into question.

This argument does not depend on voters having the right to change their minds – though they do, and the minority of voters who have changed their mind have switched more from Leave to Remain than Remain to Leave. The argument here is more narrowly about demographics.

Around 600,000 Britons die each year; a further 700,000 reach voting age. Taking account of polling data about older voters, and recent surveys of the views of new voters, and allowing for the fact that older electors are more likely to vote than younger electors, we find that:

  • 320,000 Leave voters and 160,000 Remain voters die each year,
  • 395,000 Remain voters and 60,000 Leave voters reach voting age each year.

Combining these two sets of figures, and demography alone is shrinking the Leave majority by almost 500,000 a year, or 1,350 a day. As the overall Leave majority in the referendum was 1,269,501, the effect is to cause the Leave majority to disappear on January 19, ten weeks before the scheduled Brexit day.

That calculation is an estimate, subject to a margin of error. But the direction, and broad dimensions, of demographic change are clear. By March 29, around 1.6 million people will have died and almost two million youngsters will have gained the right to vote. Even without a single voter of two years ago changing their minds, Brexit will cease to be the desire of a majority of living voters in the early weeks of next year.

Put another way, those who say that it would be a democratic travesty to reverse the decision of the 2016 referendum are implicitly saying that, by next spring, the views of dead voters should still count, while the wishes of those who have reached the age of 18 since June 23, 2016 should be ignored.

To make this point is not in any way to concede the wider democratic argument about the case for a public vote. Polls since the agreement was announced have shown that most voters want a fresh referendum. By 59-41% (excluding don’t knows), voters want a public vote anyway; and the margin rises to almost two to one (64-36%) if no deal is approved and the choice is between no-deal and no Brexit. And support for Remain is also rising.

We should not be surprised. Fully 75% of the public believe that the Brexit being delivered is “nothing like that which was promised two years ago”. Just seven per cent disagree. A big majority thinks that Brexit “is turning into a disaster for our businesses, our public services and the future of our young people”.

Already in September, more people (44%) expected the economy to be weaker than stronger (21%). That two-to-one gulf has now widened to a four-to-one chasm. There has also been an increase in pessimism on the NHS, the standard of living, and the future prospects for today’s children, if Brexit goes ahead.

Views may change; and no government should ever be a slave to opinion poll findings. But in as far as the debate is about democracy and the will of the people, the case for sticking with the 2016 result is getting weaker by the day.

Peter Kellner is the former president of YouGov

 

 

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BLOG – Review and Synopsis of The Business Plan for Peace – Building a World without War. By Dr Scilla Elworthy. November 2018

Scilla

As I begin to write, it is Armistice Day when we honour the dead on both sides of the conflict. The best way to honour all those who lost their lives in the Great War and subsequent wars would be to commit to end war for good. In her book Scilla Elworthy shows us how this can be done. Her key message is: War is past its sell-by date.

 

This is a marvellous book both visionary and, as the title implies, hard-headed and pragmatic. It’s based on years of practical experience of peace-making and the prevention of violent conflict.

Key Themes

 

At the heart of this book is the belief that humans have the capacity to evolve and become more humane. There is a growing change of consciousness centred in Europe and much of North America. Thus peace and a future without mass violence is possible. Journalists on the whole tell a different story. There is a lack of balance. BBC and other media do not balance their reporting of violence with enough stories of those who prevent or reduce terror and courageously carry out other humanitarian acts. There is a need for media education. Terrorism should be deprived of the oxygen of publicity. However the media serve us by confronting us with the horror of what is happening to families, just like ours, suffering bombardment in the rubble of Syria. Every time I see this I think of my precious little two year old grandson. How can we be so inhumane?

 

At the centenary of the ending of World War 1, we are reminded of the horrors of the then new military technology that provided a massive killing machine in which millions of young men slaughtered each other for no good reason. Total deaths included from 9 to 11 million military personnel. The civilian death toll was about 8 million, including about 6 million due to war-related famine and disease.

 

The belief that it is necessary to hold massive weapons to prevent war dies hard. Significantly, the five permanent members of the UN Security Council, USA, Russia, China, France and the UK are the top arms sellers. USA accounts for approximately half this expenditure. Britain is the second biggest arms dealer in the world  . These exports are said to be “essential for our security and prosperity”. But in fact they fuel war and contribute to the increased risk of terror threats to Britain and across the West. Far better to address the causes of war.

 

What astonishes me in Scilla’s book is the vast amounts spent on violence, and the money to be made from it, compared with the total underfunding of peace. In 2015, the economic impact of all violence was $13,600,000,000,000. Most of this is government spending on military and internal security. Useful sources of information include the  Global Peace Index (GPI) 2017 which measures the relative peacefulness of nations and regions and The Institute for Economics & Peace (IEP). There are two divergent tendencies: richer countries tend to become more peaceful, poorer countries more violent.

 

The Economic losses from conflict in 2015 were $742bn compared with total peacekeeping $8.3bn. If the international community doubled peacebuilding over the next ten years the yield is calculated as $2.9 trillion. Currently we spend $9 billion annually on ice cream. A 2.5 percent tax on current annual arms sales – $94.5bn would yield about $2,360,000,000 that could be invested in addressing the root causes of conflict.

 

Vast sums are made from war: War makes a few extremely rich. Global military expenditure in 2016 was $1,686, 000,000,000  rising to $1.700, 000,000 in 2017 . According to the UN it would cost $340,000,000,000 to provide primary and secondary education to every child in the world and $28,400,000,000 per annum to provide basic water and sanitation services by 2030. Leaving an ample $1,317,600,000,000 for all other sustainable development goals. If we spent such sums on dealing with the causes of armed conflict, and preventing wars, we would have a very different world. Or, for example, training 40 million unemployed youth and educating 27 million not in education in the Middle East (World Economic Forum ).

There are two divergent tendencies: richer countries tend to become more peaceful; poorer countries become more violent.

 

Switching from war to peace. For example, Lockheed Martin in partnership with BAE Systems building a Joint Strike Fighter was estimated to cost in 2013 $400bn. BAE Systems and similar companies need to switch investment from fossil fuels to renewable energy would do far better to turn its attention to sustainability . The Lucas Aerospace Plan – The fight for useful work at Lucas Aerospace 1976  is a model for the world that was unfortunately not supported by the management or the Labour Government of the time. We now need a major campaign to accelerate widespread divestment from harmful activities into innovative financing linked to renewable energy, beneficial individuals and communities.

 

“If you want peace, don’t talk to your friends. Talk to your enemies.”

Desmond Tutu.

 

The need now is for dialogue and the skills to bring peace about. This was tried and tested successfully in South Africa following Nelson‘s release from prison. So we know it is possible. The basic principles are dialogue, prevention and early intervention. Western countries are perfectly capable of intervening with such an approach if they were so minded. The major obstacles are: disbelief in this possibility, mind-sets, fear, aggression, competition, and greed – and the vast sums to be made from war. Underlying violence is often a sense of humiliation or injustice.

 

Preventing violence at source – a software approach. The case of Syria offers an example of how a software approach could have worked. Protests began in January 2011, calling for democracy, an end to the state of emergency in force since January 1963 and an end to corruption. On 15 March a “Day of Rage” took place, considered to be a national uprising. The terrified Syrian regime became violent. Scilla describes how a different scenario could have developed. If the Syrian regime had shown willingness to listen a different scenario would have developed. Expert mediators could have worked with all parties to understand their demands and fears, then a series of meetings then propose terms for a series of meetings between the regime and leadership of protests, upholding the principle of respect for all sides.

 

Women are needed. This is not surprising. Scilla says research for this book has shown how vital is the work of women in stopping people killing each other. Example after example demonstrates their innate skill. Crisis Group has found that a peace agreement is 35% more likely to last at least 15 years if women participate in its creation, yet until recently women made up only 2.5% of signatories to peace agreements. Thousands more women are needed at every level. Peace-building cannot succeed if half the population is excluded from the process.

 

Reversing climate change and the destruction of Planet Earth. However what I also find astonishing the low priority given to reversing climate change and the destruction of Planet Earth, our home. This other existential threat is already having disastrous consequences for human beings, rich and poor, and all life on the planet.

 

The Structure of the Book

 

The structure of the book is systematic: Part One. The Problem of War. Why it is in global interests to stop war. The costs of warfare to amounts spent on human needs. The drivers of war. Why war continues, whose interests it serves, how policy makers think, why people love to fight.

 

Part Two. How can war be stopped? Basic principles – dialogue, prevention and early intervention. Understanding motivation and how dialogue can begin. Basic strategy for building peace, the most effective methods, local, national and international. Costing the business plan for peace, first ever assessment of what a ten year strategy would cost, applying it to Syria as an example. The rise of citizen action, what works and what does not. What you can do. The qualities of people doing it and the skills you will need. Finally, a useful toolbox.

 

What you can do:

  • Be an activist.

“Activism is my rent for living on the planet.” Alice Walker

Bruce Nixon is author of The 21st Century Revolution – A Call to Greatness http://www.brucenixon.com/21stCenturyRevolution.html . It was Oxford Book of the Month November 2016.  Bruce gives participative talks on transforming UK Democracy. You can sign up for my occasional newsletter here http://eepurl.com/cOCHKD

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Remembering Keith, a Servant Leader

A national conversation about British capitalism is needed. Will Hutton, commenting on Philip Green’s downfall , says we should look closely at British capitalism. He argues that “British capitalism needs a root-and-branch makeover. We need more firms committed to creating value animated by a purpose. Firms that want to be great places to work, to serve their customers, to possess shareholders who take on that vision and to recognise their responsibility to the society of which they are part. A national conversation about how to do this has not even begun”.

Dr Keith Panton provides an example of  corporate leadership at its best. He was not ambitious in the ordinary sense, just enormously talented. He cared about his employees and country. He became the first black Jamaican to become Chairman and Chief Executive of Alcan Jamaica. He saved the company from closure and contributed to his country in many other ways. There are servant leadership organisations in the UK and USA. Executive of Alcan Jamaica.

Keith and Bruce Keith and Bruce

Early in January 1960, newly married, my wife and I flew to Jamaica on a Bristol Britannia that stopped off to refuel at Montreal in a snowstorm and then another stop in hot Bermuda. It was the start of an adventure that profoundly influenced me. I was to be personnel officer, helping to set up a personnel department at Alcan Jamaica’s (Aljam’s) newly-opened Ewarton plant. We started in a dusty hut before air conditioned offices were built. Two years later, Jamaica became independent. It was a time of great optimism, and we became very involved in Jamaican life. Two of our sons were born in Jamaica.

Three years later I moved to another personnel role in Aljam’s Kirkvine Head Office near Mandeville. But in 1965 we decided to return to UK. We wanted our two children to be nearer their grandparents. I had thought of staying in Jamaica, but I felt it made no sense for me to occupy a job for which there were equally if not more able Jamaicans. That’s when I met my successor Dr Keith Panton. I helped induct him into his new role. We immediately clicked. We were two young men – he a black Jamaican, I a white expatriate. We realised we had very similar values and hopes.

Soon after my wife and I set up home in UK, a large box of oranges arrived from St Elizabeth – Keith’s roots were in St Elizabeth and farming.  We lost contact until many years later when I wrote to Keith at a PO Box address in St Elizabeth. To my astonishment, I received an invitation from Keith to come out to the celebration of 40 years’ operation of Alcan in Jamaica. It was a fantastic event! When his son, David, and his daughter, Beth- Sarah, did post – graduate degrees at Oxford (as a Rhodes Scholar) and Cambridge respectively, our two families became friends, exchanging visits.

By then Keith had become Chairman and CEO, the first black Jamaican in that role which he occupied for 12 years – the longest ever tenure. He saved the company from closure using German productivity improvement measures.

But German productivity methodology was not the only thing that saved Aljam. After listening to the Aljam President saying, again and again, why Alcan should remain in Jamaica and others saying why Alcan should not be in Jamaica at all, the Chairman decided to bring matters to a head. He invited Dr Panton and Dr Panton’s boss in to his office to make their different cases – Keith to keep Aljam open and running, and his boss – the Director of Raw Materials, to close it.

Very few people in the island knew about that momentous meeting. All they knew was that they came to work as usual, the plants kept running, and Ewarton Works went on to record production levels.

The master negotiator had won!

Keith had strong views on education. He believed that the Company could do more in this area, and he decided to do something about it. He introduced a programme where any employee’s child who qualified for University could attend and get Company support. This was not only a benefit for the children of Aljam employees; it was also a major contribution to education in Jamaica.

Keith was a quiet visionary.  He spearheaded the development of the Aljam vision, the by-line of which was – “Quietly achieving important goals”.

The country’s foremost orchidologist highlighted to him the fragility of the Island’s flora and the effects of bauxite mining on the delicate plants. He established sanctuaries for the tiny orchids that were found only in Jamaica.  Located at the Ewarton and Kirkvine mining areas, they were popular stops for tourists travelling from north to south coast.

His sensitive concern for Jamaica’s fragile environment went further. He established “The Alcan Chair for the Environment” at the University of the West Indies and secured a distinguished professor to be its first occupant. It is clear that Keith and I had similar priorities.

On my second visit, Keith took me all over the Island he loved, including some of Jamaica’s beautiful architectural heritage and one of the orchid sanctuaries.

After retiring he worked as a management consultant.  We worked together on an assignment for the University of the West Indies in Kingston and I did research for him at Oxford. Sometimes he just helped people out, like the man who came to him after losing his roof in the hurricane.

While at Aljam, he was ordained as an Anglican priest and, after retiring from Alcan, he was appointed Executive-in-Residence at the University of the West Indies in Kingston, while continuing his ministry. He was awarded the Eisenhower Exchange Fellowship, joining a distinguished and select group of global leaders. The Government of Jamaica also honoured him for his service to the country by awarding him the Order of Distinction in the Rank of Commander.

 I remember Keith as a really lovely man, generous, very humorous, humble, and not ambitious in the ordinary sense, just enormously talented and a servant of his company, employees and country. I feel blessed to have known him as a friend.

This article is based on one first published 9th October 2015 in the Rio Tinto Emeritus magazine by Bruce Nixon with key contributions from Ransford Neil, formerly Keith’s Corporate Relations Manager.

Bruce Nixon is author of The 21st Century Revolution – A Call to Greatness . It was Oxford Book of the Month November 2016.  You can sign up for his occasional newsletter here http://eepurl.com/cOCHKD

Bloomsbury Festival 17-21 October 2018

Dear Friends,

This is to tell you about the Bloomsbury Festival 17-21 October 2018 and invite you my talk/ discussion, Democracy in Crisis: What’s gone wrong and how we can put it right. Thursday 18th October 7:00 pm to 8:30 pm at the Penn Club. A lot of people feel disillusioned with politics and politicians. But it does not have to be like this. We’ll re-imagine politics and explore how to bring about fundamental change.

 

The Bloomsbury Festival is five-day celebration of the area’s pioneering creativity. I feel very honoured and privileged to have a place in it.

 

I’d love you to come to my event, but the whole festival is amazing. So have a good look at the huge variety of other events, exhibitions, performance, music and film, new wave show-casing new talent, literature, workshops, walks, talks, family friendly events and tours a great street party.

 

My event is free, but you are advised to book a place early as there will be only 40-45 seats.

 

Please spread the word amongst people you think would be interested in my talk and other events.

 

Hope to see you there but in any case many thanks,

 

Bruce

PS You can sign up for my occasional newsletter here where you will also be able buy my latest book The 21st Century Revolution: A Call to Greatness.

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IPPR Prosperity and Justice – A plan for the new economy

IPPR   Prosperity and Justice – A plan for the new economy

Here is one of the most far sighted, imaginative and practical set of proposals for the future of the British economy. It stands beside the similar excellent proposals of the Will Hutton and Andrew Adonis book Saving Britain – How We Must Change to Prosper in Europe  https://guardianbookshop.com/saving-britain.html .

Prosperity and Justice argues that the economy is not working for millions of people and needs fundamental reform.

It is the product of a two-year enquiry into the UK economy, the final report of the IPPR Commission on Economic Justice https://www.ippr.org/research/publications/prosperity-and-justice-executive-summary presents a plan for economic reform to achieve prosperity and justice together. The members of the commission were drawn from a wide range of interests including business leaders, entrepreneurs, scientists, people in the cultural world and the General Secretary of the TUC. It sets out to remedy the failure to address the urgent need, after some fifty years of decline, for an industrial revolution benefitting the UK as a whole.

It is notable that it is being taken seriously by John McDonnell, Shadow Chancellor of the Exchequer.

My only criticism of both is that there is insufficient emphasis on the need to prosper by greening our economy, focus on the wellbeing of all life and living lightly on the planet if humanity is to survive.

These are the key messages.

  1. The UK economy is not working. It is no longer delivering rising living standards for a majority of the population. Average earnings have stagnated for more than a decade – even while economic growth has occurred. Too many people are in insecure jobs; young people are set to be poorer than their parents; the nations and regions of the UK are diverging further. As more and more people feel economically disenfranchised, the political consequences are being felt across society.
  2. The economy needs fundamental reform. Many of the causes of the UK’s poor economic performance – particularly its weaknesses in productivity, investment and trade – go back 30 years or more. They will not be addressed by incremental change or trying to ‘muddle through’. Fundamental reform has happened twice before in the last century following periods of crisis – with the Attlee government’s Keynesian reforms in the 1940s and the Thatcher government’s free market reforms in the 1980s. Ten years after the financial crash, change of this magnitude is needed again.
  3. A fair economy is a strong economy. It used to be thought that prosperity and economic justice were in conflict; we had to choose one or other but could not have both. The international evidence now points in precisely the opposite direction. A more equal economy generates stronger and more stable growth, lower social costs and greater wellbeing. Both economics and morality argue for an economy which achieves prosperity and justice together.
  4. Economic justice needs to be ‘hard-wired’ into the way the economy works. It is not sufficient to seek to redress injustices and inequalities simply by redistribution through the tax and benefit system. They need to be tackled at source, in the structures of the economy in which they arise. These include the labour market and wage bargaining, the ownership of capital and wealth, the governance of firms, the operation of the financial system and the rules that govern markets. Economic justice cannot be an afterthought; it must be built in to the economy.
  5. Achieving prosperity and justice together requires a comprehensive and integrated programme of reform across the economy. There is no ‘silver bullet’. Our 10-part plan includes far-reaching but achievable measures to:
  • promote ‘investment-led growth’ by raising public investment, holding down house price inflation and reducing the incentives that currently favour short-term shareholder returns over long-term productive investment
  • rebalance the economy through ‘new industrialisation’, away from an over-dependence on the finance sector towards a more diverse array of manufacturing and other innovative, export-oriented industries, located right across the country
  • give workers greater bargaining power, making it easier for trade unions to negotiate on their behalf to achieve higher productivity and to share its rewards fairly through better wages and conditions and reduced working time
  • pursue ‘managed automation’, accelerating the adoption of new technologies across the economy and ensuring that workers share in the productivity gains and re helped to retrain
  • promote open markets which reduce the near-monopoly power of dominant companies, particularly in the digital economy, and make data available to promote innovation for social good
  • spread wealth more widely in society, both by widening ownership of capital and through fairer forms of wealth and corporate taxation.
  1. Achieving change means redressing imbalances of economic power: from corporate management towards workers and trade unions, from dominant companies towards innovators and entrepreneurs, from short-term finance towards long-term investors, from Whitehall towards the nations and regions of the UK. We need a more active and purposeful state, acting to achieve prosperity, justice and environmental sustainability on behalf of society as a whole. It must be decentralised, with stronger powers for the nations and regions of the UK. Managing economic change will require greater social partnership, both within companies, and between businesses, trade unions, government and civil society.

7. Change is possible, and urgent. Many other countries have economies that are both fairer and more successful than ours. As we confront the challenges of Brexit, of further globalisation, and of technological, demographic and environmental change, doing nothing won’t keep things the same—it will  make things worse. The economy we have is a matter of choice, and changing it is a matter of democracy. Fundamental reform can be achieved, if we have the will to do so.

Bloomsbury Festival – Activists and Architects of Change.

Dear Friends,

This is to tell you about the Bloomsbury Festival 17-21 October 2018 and invite you my talk/ discussion, Democracy in Crisis: What’s gone wrong and how we can put it right . A lot of people feel disillusioned with politics and politicians. But it does not have to be like this. We’ll re-imagine politics and explore how to bring about fundamental change.

The Bloomsbury Festival  is five-day celebration of the area’s pioneering creativity. I am what is called a partner. I feel very honoured and privileged to have a place in it.

I’d love you to come to my event, but the whole festival is amazing. So have a good look at the huge variety of other events – exhibitions, performance, music and film, new wave show-casing new talent, literature, workshops, walks, talks, family friendly events and tours a great street party.

My event is free, but you are advised to book a place early as there will be only 40-45 seats.

Please spread the word amongst people you think would be interested in my talk and other events.

Many thanks,

Bruce

 

One of our holidays was a visit to La Scentella

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I hope you are having a lovely summer. We have had three holidays. It has been a welcome break from British politics.

One of our holidays was a visit to La Scentella an agriturismo in the Italian province of Le Marche bordering the Adriatic coast. Le Marche is an area of beautiful old hilltop towns. Down below are fields of grapes, olives, lavender, sunflowers, fruit and vegetables of many kinds.

Our host at La Scentella, Roberto Ferretti, a retired family therapist, an expert on peasant cooking, is an informal leader and co-ordinator of the many Agriturismos in the area. One year when we visited, he arranged a lavender festival in a great castle. He travels the world demonstrating Italian peasant cooking. As a result whilst his agriturismo attracts visitors from many countries.

Whilst we were staying six women from Japan, including a cook and a potter, a journalist and his friend, a couple from Sweden, another from Sicily, a family from Argentina and a woman from France.

IMG_1673

We often cooked meals together in Roberto’s kitchen under his direction and ate together. Roberto took us out to visit his friends: producers of fruit and vegetables, organic artisan grain and pizzas – the best I ever tasted, cheeses and makers of olive oil and a bread fair, after which everyone was fed using the lovely bread on display. What these agriturismos have in common is that most are organic and they share a love of high quality unadulterated local food.

IMG_1845_1Roberto had asked me to give a talk/discussion on Democracy in crisis: what’s gone wrong and how we can put it right. It would be much like my blog posts on the subject and talks that I have been giving in the UK. However I asked him to provide a speaker on the situation in Italy. In fact there were two, including a philosophy professor who said “we need a change of heart”. So true. I was also provided with an interpreter, a school teacher with very similar ideas to my own. We worked together to make my Power Points as concise as possible to allow time for her interpreting. Over fifty people came. First we all ate together in the garden.

IMG_1841_1Roberto’s world is a world of living well on our planet and international friendship. He modestly embodies his philosophy in his way of life. It is truly inspirational. His sort of approach, which is to influence by doing and being, is so refreshing and such a cure for the current aggressive and often abusive debate going on in the UK and European politics. We need to come together, collaborate and find common ground in re-imagining a better UK, a better Europe and a better World.Roberto’s world is a world of living well on our planet and international friendship. He modestly embodies his philosophy in his way of life. It is truly inspirational. His sort of approach, which is to influence by doing and being, is so refreshing and such a cure for the current aggressive and often abusive debate going on in the UK and European politics. We need to come together, collaborate and find common ground in re-imagining a better UK, a better Europe and a better World.

Bruce Nixon is author of The 21st Century Revolution: A Call to Greatness . My Blog and occasional newsletter, which you can sign up for on this site, are available to keep you up to date.