We at Renew have been asking the question of how to reform capitalism in the 21st century. In this opinion piece, writer and Renew supporter Jim Cowan describes how a change in consciousness might help heal a divided society.
Capitalism evolves over time. Personally, I find it helpful to see that evolution in terms of the power relationships between the state, trade, and civil society.
During the industrial revolution, trade and commerce were centre-stage, supported by the state and civil society. The dominating consciousness was the age of reason and free thought.
The end of the Second World War brought a seismic shift: welfare state Britain was born. The state became central, influencing both business and civil society. The dominating consciousness was of the power of administration and professionals to solve problems and get things done.
In the late 1970s, a whole network of free-market thinkers rebelled against this ‘slavery by the state’, leading to the country’s third evolution: market-thinking Britain. This is the Britain we are all living in. Here, markets are placed in the dominant position by government. In return, the government will be fully supported by markets to create a society in which private sector thinking rules.
Since the state championed this thinking, markets and businesses don’t have to; we could call this arrangement cosy. Civil society becomes a dumping ground for the failures and worst human indignities of a materialistic and market-oriented culture.
Does this fact warrant reform? Quite obviously, yes. And what this way of looking at power in Britain suggests is a fourth evolution: a people-centred form of capitalism in which business and the state support civil society.
History also shows us that the effort required for actual reform has to await bigger contributory factors that make the change possible. But are such factors in the offing?
The first thing needed is an evolution of human consciousness that spreads through the population, which no politician or institution can control. This might look like a Britain whose collective brains have not been taken over by market thinking. In this society, people would be freer to become the person they can be; an existential freedom given rein by companies and jobs that recognise it. This genie is already well and truly out of the bottle. For whole swathes of the population, we are no longer just products of a mass society, our inner lives matter.
The second factor is that while civil society may have become a dumping ground, it is at the same time unbelievably resilient, rich and deep. It defines Britain. It is also the very source of humanity and the repairing of the social fabric. My book, The Britain Potential, identifies 50 grassroots initiatives (and there are many, many more). Many are in civil society, but some are in business, and some even in state services. They seem to be enacting this next stage of human consciousness. They are reforming capitalism before our eyes.
This is not being created by elites. The energy driving these initiatives is coming from a recognition that market forces can sometimes lead to inhuman and dysfunctional outcomes. The downsides of the neoliberal version of capitalism seem to be stoking the fires of its self-organising reform.
After the Great Depression, national government had to take on unemployment as a key metric. In the 1970s, inflation became another.
The next key metric for the renewal of Britain and the evolution of capitalism is going to be repairing the social fabric. This is a key metric signalling a moving on from market thinking to a civil society-centred Britain. New start-up parties like Renew are best placed to lead this charge, since the old guard simply have too much baggage to provide the answers.
In this opinion piece, Renew candidate for Morecambe and Lunesdale, Emma Rome, tells us what she thinks about Labour’s Brexit policy.
Labour proposes that if you want either to leave or remain in the EU, you should vote for them, because they will offer you a referendum either way.
But Labour's position fails the credibility test. Anyone who sincerely wants to leave will prefer a party dedicated to that end. Similarly, anyone who sincerely wants to remain will vote for a party dedicated to that end.
Who is Labour's target voter?
It is clearly not anyone who strongly cares either way about whether the UK remains or leaves the EU. While there will always be a core who will vote for them regardless, those who have Brexit/remain as their main political issue have effectively been abandoned by them, as Labour has chosen not to take a stand on this position, not even to state clearly how they will campaign on such a second referendum. This makes them an unlikely candidate for election victory as they have effectively surrendered the contest on both wings of this issue which has absorbed our news for the past three years.
But suppose they were to win the much-anticipated early general election. They would then be in a position to negotiate with the EU. But the EU, knowing Labour will put any negotiated deal to a referendum, can play hardball, and it will be in their best interests to do so, as the EU wants the UK to remain a member of the EU.
Labour claims it can negotiate a deal in which the UK will leave the EU and be better off. This is a logical fallacy. There is no way that the EU would, or even could, create an option for a member state to leave and be better off. That's not how clubs that make the members better off through membership work. It has nothing to do with any supposed intent of the EU to 'punish' the UK for leaving. It's like voting to leave a cruise liner on a lifeboat, then complaining that you no longer have access to the cinema.
We're simply stronger together.
But let’s suppose the EU is willing to consider playing hardball. They have a vested interest in doing so, because the harder the form of Brexit offered up in Labour's referendum, the more likely it is that waverers will choose to remain rather than accept Corbyn's deal. They don't even need to shift much from their current position.
For all the musical chairs of UK politics, the EU position since May has remained the same: the Brexit options are the withdrawal deal negotiated by Theresa May (with purely cosmetic alterations) or a no deal, no plan Brexit. They simply aren't interested in renegotiating again after the UK spent over three years faffing around on the issue.
Finally, the idea that they would campaign against their own negotiated deal during a referendum campaign is also somewhat ridiculous. If they campaign against their Labour-negotiated Brexit (the so-called "Lexit") and for Remain, they would be in the position of discrediting their own negotiators, which at this level would necessarily include would-be Prime Minister Corbyn himself. The political cost of tearing down their own party leader for a policy that the party has been decidedly non-committal on seems improbable. Especially when considering that the alternative boost to his credibility would strengthen the party were they in such a position.
No, there is no referendum in this scenario in which Labour could campaign for Remain without discrediting themselves. The whole ‘fence-sitting’ or ‘broad church’ exercise of the past few years has been little more than an exercise in persuading Remain voters to support a party that hasn't left itself in a position where it can credibly campaign for Remain. If you want the UK to remain a member of the European Union, you should vote for a party that will unequivocally campaign for Remain.
That’s why I will be voting for Renew.
Renew Candidate for Lewes, Paul Gerken, invites us to play a game with him: the great Despot Bingo.
There is a classic set of requirements to be a certified despot in today’s modern world. Like many others, I thought our chances of being lucky enough to have our very own British tyrannical leader (a Brit-pot, if you will) were so remote as to be laughable. Yet here we are – achingly close! Here is what I have ticked off so far:
The despot loves a big and bold statement of engineering capacity, and horrendous waste of public resource, for the sake of their own ego being attached to it. Boris Johnson not only has a host of these in his back catalogue (I’m looking at you, that monstrous helter skelter thing next to the Olympic Stadium), but he is brimming with ideas for the future. Building a f**k-off bridge to Ireland from Scotland was one of Boris’ most recent mind farts to hit the news.
Incitement of Hatred
No point in uniting people when you’ll need one half to imprison the other half in detention centres, am I right? So the despot will naturally want to incite as much anger and hatred in people as possible. How about calling a piece of legislation a ‘surrender bill’ and inexcusably make people think that the Brexit negotiations are akin to losing a war? Circle your cards, we’re angry.
Chuck out Dissenters
Loyalty trumps all else when you’re running a dictatorship. For MPs, their opinion is a ‘thanks but no thanks’, and the information they will receive is strictly ‘need to know’ only. Heads up; you don’t need to know anything, guys. Be loyal, don’t question, fall into line. Bozza’s move to chuck out 21 MPs from the party within a heartbeat of starting his job proves his intention to literally take no shit from no-one. Which takes us to…
Complete Closure of the Legislature
If he can’t be arsed to listen to the crap from his own side, what makes you think he’ll take it from Labour and some bleeding heart liberals? This is one I thought I would have to wait a while to cross off my card, but old BoJo didn’t waste any time with his attempt at the complete removal of democratic scrutiny. If you’re a despot, the last thing you want is elected representatives drilling you over what it is you’re doing. Go rogue and prorogue! Tick!
Power comes from the masses, so it’s easy pickings to kick someone who is a little bit different. Piccninny-letterboxed, watermelon-smiling bum-boys take note; you’re in for a rough ride under the sweaty ham-fist of this soon-to-be despot.
Undermine the Judiciary
Judges can be a pain, can’t they? Especially when they are so detached from the ‘Will of the People’! It’s like they don’t even consider the People’s whims and fancies in their rulings at all. They just seem to rely on process, precedent and rationality. BoJo shares in the People’s frustration; he’s a man of the People. Best just to declare publicly when they get it wrong, for short-term gain, as nothing could ever go wrong from undermining confidence in our legal system.
Have an Evil Mastermind Sidekick
Less a requirement to be a despot, and more a villain for comedic relief in a Disney film, having an Evil Mastermind Sidekick is a fun one to mark off your Despot Bingo card. Whilst many a sidekick huddle in the shadows, Boris’ right hand man, the infamous DC, loves nothing than to be pap-snapped trundling into the Prime Minister's Jag, tote bag and air of arrogance in toe. Dominic Cummings adds a genuine touch of 'holy shit he’ll really let us all burn' air to proceedings.
More Police for a Police State
'20,000 more police! 20,000 more police!' says our Bo, ad nauseam, like it’s the solution to absolutely everything. The irony of being part of the government that removed the 20,000 police in the first place is, I fear, somewhat lost. However, you do need police numbers to effectively run a police state, so get the recruitment machine whirling early, I’d say. Circle circle!
Absolutely fundamental. Think of any man hell-bent on dictatorial lunacy and you’ll find hair that defies convention. From your Kim Jong Un wedge, to your Trump blow-out, and our own Johnson’s ‘Eton Mess’, you can’t expect to rule with an iron fist if you haven’t got the barnet to prove it. Luckily, with Johnson’s scrappy ‘Children of the Corn’ locks, we’re on track to call Bingo.
Have Favourites, Treat ‘em Nice
There’s no point being in power if you can’t dole out treats to whomever you want to bone. Now, I’m not saying that anyone in the current role of Prime Minister has done that, but if he were to be a Despot, that’s what he’d do. So, until any independent investigation, let’s say we leave this one under review. Close, highly-scrutinized, review.
People, we’re nearly there! Just a few quick skips into the breakdown of democratic institutions and we will have a fully-fledged despot at the helm of power. Strap on to your seats; I feel I am about to call ‘BINGO!’
In the second of a two-part series on modern capitalism, Gwen Jones proposes some major changes to help fix our broken economy.
Part one of this article described the ways in which capitalism tends to adapt and mutate in response to crisis. It then went on to argue that the current situation represents an end to the long-term pattern; in part, due to a failure of understanding, and in part, due to a failure within the system itself.
The solution lies, perhaps ironically, with the most disruptive force we’ve experienced as a species to date : information technology. With capitalism stalling, we should be looking forwards towards an entirely different model, built around this new and invaluable tool. Let’s call it the information economy.
1. Saving the planet
First, it’s worth outlining the things we actually want this new economy to do. Unlike the neoliberal model, any alternative must prioritise environmental sustainability; the rapid reduction of carbon emissions and the mitigation of the impacts of climate change after that. The key will be investment in technologies that respond to these challenges through sustainable growth - it is not the case that we have to go backwards in growth-time to protect the climate.
The state has a role to play here; one of the most common misconceptions with regards to neoliberalism is that the state is passive. In fact, the state is essential to the survival of neoliberalism via active intervention to support markets, privatisation and the interests of finance. Hence, shifting the actions of the state towards the creation of new markets that produce sustainable, collaborative and socially desirable outcomes - or away from market forces entirely - could put an end to growth at the expense of the planet.
For example, by subsidising solar panels, the state encourages people to install them in their homes. But without proper regulation, these panels will be produced in factories overseas where wages and low and working conditions are poor. So we can go further - by incentivising localised energy production schemes, communities are allowed to self-regulate their own energy supply and use, as well as to sell excess to local businesses, generating positive multiplier effects.
2. Reducing inequalities
The second goal must be to reduce catastrophic inequality by delivering high levels of prosperity to the majority of people. We should first put an end to the state-led deregulation of finance and support for growing privatisation. Shrunken state power and resources force governments to outsource vital services, and a race-to-the-bottom style competition between contractors leads to poor quality provision in areas like housing and health.
In many cases, the state is better placed than private agents to fill these roles - it is larger, better resourced, more able to take risks and less vulnerable to the short term interests of share-holders. Thus, the state has a unique ability to create and shape markets towards a socially productive end. By reframing our idea of the state as an investor and provider, we are able to socialise reward, as well as risk.
3. Harnessing the power of the network
The most important tool in the arsenal when beginning the transition towards an information economy is, of course, the information itself. We live in a world where many of the actions we take, online and in ‘real-life’, are recorded and fed back to a corporate owner. These huge pools of aggregate data are used to better understand consumer behaviour and improve the quality of service provision on this basis.
The real potential lies in what happens when this information is transferred from the private to the public sphere. Info-capitalism relies on knowledge asymmetry; corporations get rich because of what they know and what their customers and competitors do not. A guiding principle going forward should therefore be that the pursuit of knowledge asymmetry is wrong.
Harnessing the power of aggregate information has enormous power to eradicate social challenges, be they poor health, welfare dependency or air pollution. As an example, utilising aggregate patient data sets could have a huge impact on improving the quality and efficiency of NHS service provision.
The capacity of information-rich technologies for solving these sorts of problems will only grow as other structures, like food supply chains and transport and road networks, become ‘intelligent’.
4. Taming the beast (finance)
Perhaps the biggest and most important goal of all should be to socialise (and make safe) the global finance system. At present, a combination of factors - ageing populations, the climate crisis and enormous debt overhang - are threatening the entire global economy with catastrophe. We cannot allow finance to spiral out of control as it did before 2008, especially given that the consequences of another collapse would now likely be even more severe.
The first step should be to nationalise the central bank. Monetary policy should be geared towards higher-than-average inflation, both as a means of stimulating the economy and of gradually eating away massive sovereign debts. Regulations that were allowed to slip in the late 90s and early 2000s should be reinforced, backed by tight criminal enforcement in accountancy, banking and law. The aim of the financial sector should be to increase wealth generated by innovation and productivity, rather than interest alone.
5. A work-free world
Innovation is often kept from vital industries by the availability of cheap and unorganised labour. The need to invest in streamlining or automating production isn’t always viable under these circumstances. In reality, we are quickly moving towards a situation in which this will no longer be the case - this transition can either be managed or unmanaged.
A government serious about moving away from capitalism will gear the development and uptake of technology towards the reduction of necessary work. In an automated world, work is voluntary, many commodities are free and economic management becomes a question of energy and resources, rather than labour and capital.
To secure a smooth transition, we should begin by starting to reshape the tax system in favour of collaborative and not-for-profit industry. These kinds of actions allow market forces to disappear gradually, as a growing proportion of the economy is occupied by non-market actors.
Finally, issuing a universal basic income would make concrete the separation between wages and work. The benefits, in terms of productivity, of automation will be enormous, but it is vital that this growth is shared, and that the old patterns inequality - of widening disparity between wages and productive assets - are not repeated.
Trusting the truth
The sheer scale of these proposals can make them difficult to accept. It’s hard to believe that markets, businesses and government policy will ever be able to keep pace with the information-technology boom.
Yet in truth, huge developments like this have revolutionised our society for years; the mobile phone, the contraceptive pill, the internet, modern democracy. The economy should not be off-limits. We live at a point in history where traditions dating back 10,000s of years are being demolished at a rate of knots; it is ridiculous that some still see the end of a 200-year-old economic paradigm as utopian.
Real change is possible, if not essential. In order to secure a future that works, we must not be afraid to challenge our preconceptions and initiate change.
In the first of a two-part series, Gwen Jones looks at the history of capitalism - and wonders how it might evolve in the future.
The year is 1938. Alone in a Soviet prison cell, one man is awaiting the end to his eight-year-long ordeal.
Nikolai Kondratieff had spent almost a decade as a political prisoner in Suzdal, just northeast of Moscow. On September 17th 1938 - the day his original sentence was completed - Kondratieff was tried again, this time found guilty of anti-Soviet activity and sentenced to death. He was executed in his cell, by firing squad.
At the time, Kondratieff ranked among the great giants of 20th Century economic thought. His crimes were non-existent. All Kondratieff was really guilty of, in the eyes of his Stalin and his secret police, was to think the unimaginable about capitalism: that instead of crumbling under crisis, capitalism generally adapts, morphs and mutates.
In two major feats of analysis, Kondratieff was able to notice a distinct pattern within modern, industrial capitalism. Beyond short-term business cycles, Kondratieff found evidence of longer, fifty-year cycles of growth and decline consistent throughout the 19th and 20th centuries. The major turning points of each cycle coincided with key structural changes within capitalism itself – thus, moments of crisis were indicative not of turmoil, but of order.
According to Kondratieff’s work, which later became popularised as ‘wave theory’, each long cycle begins with an upswing, fuelled by the roll out of new technologies and high levels of capital investment. As the rate of investment slows and saving by banks, corporations and individuals increases, the rate of growth slows up. The trajectory is still upward, though – recessions are short and shallow, and overall growth is strong.
Next, a downswing starts. The supply of accumulated capital is too great to be invested in productive industry, so more of it gets trapped within the finance system. Interest rates fall, as the abundance of cheap capital suppresses the price of borrowing. Wages and commodities prices follow, ending eventually in a depression.
The past two centuries exemplify Kondratieff’s waves almost perfectly – the first cycle began around 1790, prompted by the emergence of factories, and ended in around 1848. The second, this time fuelled by the roll out of railways, factory-produced machinery and stable global currencies, came to an end with financial crises in the UK and USA, which triggered the long depression of the 1870s-90s. Heavy industry and mass production drove the wave of the 1890s to 1945, eventually brought to its knees by the Second World War.
In the fourth (and final) wave, automated factory work, mass consumer goods and nuclear technology combined to produce the longest period of sustained economic growth in history. Decades of rising wages, the expansion of welfare, and access to integrated global markets led to a middle class explosion across Europe, the US and emerging economies. This was the era of ‘never had it so good’ - an expression which rings hollow now.
The punctuation point for this cycle is obvious. In 2008, global capitalism imploded. A poorly regulated and overinflated finance system eventually succumbed to a crisis of liquidity that almost brought the world to a standstill.
Rampant financialization had effectively, by this point, allowed many in the West to live for years off bad debt, their entire lifestyles funded by the availability of cheap credit. Wages weren’t growing, but we were still borrowing – hence the emergence of the subprime mortgage, non-existent until investment banking made it so. In the run up to the crash, banks across Europe had outstanding loans tens or hundreds of times larger than their respective national GDPs. In Iceland, the ratio of private bank assets to GDP was 1000:1.
The seeds of the next wave had been planted with the rise of information technology and the dot-com revolution of the 1990s. But while both have grown exponentially, the cycle has stalled. The West is still reeling from 2008, now over a decade ago, and recovery has been painfully slow.
Government balance sheets are overstretched, deficits still running high after billions were issued in bank bailouts. The public sector has been squeezed to crisis point by austerity, and wages in real terms have remained stagnant for years. Interest rates across most of the developed world are near zero, or below zero in some cases.
In short, the rapid take-off of a new capitalist growth cycle seems very far away indeed.
If Kondratieff was right, we should be expecting a new upswing any day now. In fact, it’s already long overdue. As mentioned, the seeds for this new paradigm have been planted; information and communications technologies have revolutionised the way in which we operate – at the individual and global levels.
So why no boom? Why no sunny uplands?
The problem lies with the way the world dealt with 2008, as well as with neoliberalism itself. The neoliberal model, which we have now come to recognise as ‘capitalism’, crumbled under the weight of its own contradictions. And yet, 10 years later, few have been resolved. The risk pooled within this instability has also been magnified - many of the techniques governments used to deal with the crash have already been expended. Interest rates have almost nowhere to go, and national deficits are already too large to take on another major bailout. There are no more bullets left in the gun.
In order to protect the world against crisis, and to secure a more prosperous future, the life support that has been used to sustain the existing system for years must finally be switched off.
Instead, we must pursue a revolutionary new approach to capitalism; one that prioritises wages over assets, equality over monopoly, and innovation over financialisation. The old ways of both the right, and the left, must be shrugged off - the 21st century will surely offer more than can ever be lived up to by business as usual.
David Britten updates you on the latest Renew events.
It was Harold Wilson who said that a week is a long time in politics, and I can confirm that. Last week was a long week.
As the Liberal Democrats officially adopted Revoking Article 50 as Brexit policy, Scotland’s highest court ruled the proroguing of Parliament unlawful and the Supreme Court poised itself to rule against Boris Johnson, I headed to the Green and Tonic debate on climate change in London. By the end of the week, I had ended up at the Usk Country Show to discuss the current state of politics with the farming community.
Green and Tonic was founded by Renew member Anthony Hobley to create debate around climate change and sustainability. The event was chaired by Anthony and the speakers were Gail Bradbrook, co-founder of Extinction Rebellion, Kate Hampton, of CIFF (Children’s Investment Fund - the world's largest philanthropic institution that focuses specifically on improving children's lives), Adam Woodhall and Malini Mehra. The discussion topic was the urgency of the climate crisis - can the UN summit deliver sufficient ambition?
Gail Bradbrook started the debate by explaining XR’s key government demands, centred on telling the truth about the urgency of the climate crisis. It was a feisty speech and XR’s plans for October were discussed in depth. As we currently have no sitting Parliament (until tomorrow, that is), there was concern that Prime Minister Johnson and sidekick Dominic Cummings could call a national emergency if there was a repeat of XR’s bridges protest, with Johnson then able to make decisions which would ultimately take away from the focus of stopping Brexit.
Kate Hampton discussed the need to make developing countries jump the energy cycle to create a low-carbon world and avoid high-emission development, a legacy left by our own Industrial Revolution. A good example of the excellent work done by Kate’s organisation is in Africa, where it helped a developing country to have the majority of its electricity needs met by renewable energy.
As for my other political trip - the Usk County Show is held in the county of Monmouthshire, which voted 50.44% to remain in the EU. Monmouthshire is in Wales on the English border and has a strong farming community.
We worked with other political parties at the show, and took a stand under the Remain Alliance banner. Along with Plaid and the Welsh Green Party, we chatted to visitors, asking them to take part in our Renewometer survey (pictured below). The conversations and results were interesting: 99% of participants were unhappy with how politicians are handling Brexit and most were hugely distrustful of politicians.
The farming community is very robust, but it also acknowledges its important role in our society. Most farmers know that their industry would suffer the most after a no-deal Brexit.
So what do these events mean for Renew? For me, they show that there is a real space and need for our party, one prepared to work with other groups to reduce inequality in the UK and tackle our environmental problems.
The reduction of inequality and the rise of technological innovation can be the UK’s bright future, and Renew will work with anyone dedicated to achieving it.
Renew’s Heather Astbury gives some advice for media management in a guide that might especially appeal to our members and candidates nervous at the prospect of engaging with journalists.
“There’s no point in doing media interviews because the reporter will twist everything you say and make you look bad anyway.” This is a statement I have heard so often – and it is simply not true.
Having once been a journalist, I know the vast majority are hardworking, dedicated and professional. They take their reputation for accuracy and fair reporting seriously; in a competitive field where mistakes can be punished by legal action, reporters with vendettas won’t last long.
My journalism course contained a significant legal element, with contempt of court and defamation (libel) being subjects we were expected to have mastered. We were taught to keep our notebooks as evidence of the information we had gathered in our interviews and the need to interview people from all sides of an argument to ensure fairness was drummed into us. If we couldn’t prove a story was true, fair and accurate, we couldn’t publish it.
That contrasts sharply with social media where ‘citizen journalism’ has meant anyone can publish almost anything without fear of reprisal. There is certainly not the level of scrutiny and standards of reporting required of career journalists. So why does the media get such a hard time?
Ignoring suggestions of vested interests of media owners - even if true this wouldn’t affect how they reported on the majority of businesses – I believe the feeling arises because potential interviewees are nervous about making a mistake and looking foolish, so they use this argument as an excuse not to engage with the media at all. Also, people often have unrealistic expectations when it comes to getting media coverage.
Reporters have a job to do, just like the rest of us. For some, their role is to inform and educate the public about subjects that are of interest and importance to them. For others, it is to entertain. It isn’t the job of any journalist to promote your company, your product or you personally. Media outlets expect you to pay for that service and that is where the lines between editorial and advertising content are drawn. Whereas with advertising you simply pay for the amount of space or time your company wants and you provide the content, the editorial process is entirely different and one you have much less control over.
Firstly, you need to convince the reporter that you have a story to tell that will be of interest to the public. One of the main requirements is that your story is actually news, i.e. it is new. If you are trying to get coverage for something that happened three months ago or has already been all over social media, forget it; reporters won’t be interested.
Once you’ve convinced the reporter, they need to persuade their editor to run the story. At this point the reporter’s reputation is on the line with their editor. If they can’t verify the facts or aren’t able to get commentary from you or third parties on the record, the story won’t run.
On the newsdesk of a national daily paper, I had to write three to four stories on completely unrelated topics per day. I had to speak to a variety of different experts for each story to ensure the story was accurate and fair. It was a rush and it’s easy to see why mistakes are made. The people who were available and willing to talk, who called me back when they said they would and who fulfilled their promises were my best friends. The flipside was that I didn’t have time to wait around for people, so if my top interview subject wasn’t available, I had to get someone else.
The ease of getting content published on social media may have made us lazy. Why spend all the time and effort required to be covered in the media when you can post anything you like as often as you want on Twitter? People generally still trust the media more than social media commentators and having your news covered in a top title can enhance your reputation enormously.
If you follow the rules, dealing with the media can be a hugely rewarding and valuable experience. Don’t miss out.
Renew's James Bryan airs his frustrations with the current political climate.
We choose representatives to make decisions of national importance, that is the core principle on which our democracy is built. There is a certain level of trust that comes with this level of power, and it has often been the case that politicians have abused that trust.
Taking away the ability of our elected representatives to create policy for five weeks during one of the most politically tumultous times in living memory is at best cynical political manoeuvring and at worst the sort of archaic abuse of power that one would expect of a medieval monarch.
It is certainly not the kind of sensible decision making that one would expect from a logically minded parliamentarian attempting to secure the best possible future for this country.
There is a certain irony in someone who has found themselves in the highest possible position in this country through luck attempting to overrule those who derive their power from an actual mandate.
Whether one believes that the UK should leave the European Union or not, whether one falls on the liberal or conservative side of the ideological spectrum, this is a matter of the political future of the United Kingdom. We, the people, voted for our representatives, and having our Prime Minister take that away is the mark of either a misinformed idiot on a power trip, or a malicious bastard attempting to push through a personal agenda at the expense of this entire country’s future.
Reject the lies, reject the cynical political manoeuvring and don’t let party politics get in the way of securing the best possible future for everyone.
If Mr Johnson disagrees with his fellow MPs then he should argue a coherent position, not shut them out.
No single person has all the answers.
The Royal Prerogative has forced the Prime Minister to go back to the people. That’s a good thing, says Renew supporter John Nucciarone.
British parliamentary democracy maintains, in essence, a balance of power.
As the country changed over the centuries, the balance of power between the monarch, Lords, and Commons did too. In the 1900s, majority governments became the norm, with the executive not only becoming more powerful but also with a higher degree of concentration in the Prime Minister’s office and his special advisors. The checks and balances reserved to not only the Commons but also the Lords and Her Majesty increased in importance. But, as the Commons and Lords are driven by partisan politics, Her Majesty’s powers cannot be re-characterised as only ceremonial by the very people she is meant to provide a check and balance against. Her powers must remain relevant. In the 21st century, they belong to the people.
An unconstitutional prorogation?
The UK constitution is a political constitution, and its conventions have a political dimension to them. That would include Her Majesty’s powers including her right to grant prorogation. The power to deny or grant it rests with her and is neither political or a convention. It is her legal right. The convention that she follows the advice of her PM is only that - a convention. The political aspect comes in when she uses her judgement as to whether to follow the advice or not.
The only way one could argue Her Majesty granting prorogation (and perhaps the advice given by the PM) is unconstitutional is if it eliminates an option MPs would otherwise have had, meaning the Queen is no longer seen as being a check and balance on Parliament, but rather a threat to the Commons.
And then you have to answer the question: did Her Majesty, in granting the prorogation, eliminate the possibility of stopping a no-deal Brexit by legislative means or reducing the amount of days available for a new government to be formed?
A court would also likely take into account the possibility of a No-Confidence Vote being held before the Queen’s Speech has been eliminated. It should then note that the Opposition was unlikely to call for one during the period before prorogation and has been playing tennis with both the government and itself on this issue for over two years.
It is important to note that a court would need to rule that the advice given by the PM and Her Majesty’s decision to grant the prorogation was illegal, as to do otherwise would reduce Her Majesty’s role to that of a figurehead, throwing the rest of the UK constitution into a spin and putting us on the road becoming a Republic. This is not something within the court’s jurisdiction and powers.
More than a pretty crown
Under the guise of not politicising the Queen, a process has started where the Queen is seen as only as a figurehead with no subjective element in her decisionmaking process. This could not be more wrong or unconstitutional.
This reasoning or interpretation of the constitution would enable a PM to request a prorogation beyond 31st October, or linger on after losing a non-confidence vote and another government is ready to be formed. The Queen may rely on her PM to convey an accurate picture of the political landscape, but the final decision still rests with her. For this reason, her advisors at the Palace must be independent of the Prime Minster’s Office.
Her Majesty likely granted this prorogation as a result of thinking that, should the House of Commons wish to finally make itself heard, it can - either by bringing down the government or passing legislation preventing a no-deal Brexit.
Perhaps she is asking them to get on with it if that is what is necessary or desired. Either way, have no doubt that the Queen’s legal powers, including her power to dismiss a PM (after the Commons has acted) now have our Prime Minister considering an election to avoid a No-Confidence vote and the possibility of having to leave Downing Street so soon.
In this piece, Renew member Paul Gerken compares Boris Johnson's proroguing of Parliament to Jafar's control and exploitation of the genie's powers in Aladdin.
As much as our new overlords will try to convince you otherwise: this isn’t normal. As much as our unwritten constitution can’t define the proroguing of Parliament as illegal, it shouldn’t mean that we understand it as a correct resolution to our Brexit crisis. It isn’t.
What Alexander “Boris” Johnson is doing, as an unelected Prime Minister with no mandate, is wielding the monarch’s power in a way usually vested only in those who have been voted for by the majority of the population. Yet within a matter of days of being honoured with these privileges, he has taken those powers and stretched our political fabric to the point of breaking.
He has not acted like a guardian of our institutions and traditions, but a wanton destroyer. This ain’t right; this ain’t OK.
The power of the Prime Minister is eyed enviously by many western democratic leaders. The freedom to act comes from being able to execute many things in the name of the Queen, who still holds ultimate authority. But, like many commentators state, the idea that the Queen will suddenly begin to exercise these powers herself and go against the will of the Prime Minister is for the birds. The Monarch’s power is like the genie in Aladdin; in the hands of the good it can be a force for great success. In the hands of Jafar? Well, all shit breaks loose and the kingdom lies in rubble.
And see how scheming, duplicitous, machiavellian Jafar has got his hands on our genie.
Ladies and gents, if you think BoJo is only going to pull this stunt once, I think you’ll be in for a surprise. Once someone tastes power, they don’t give it up easily. Especially not someone who has committed more backstabbings to get power than those in the entirety of Game of Thrones.
This man, this caricature, has been rewarded at every turn for his deceit and treachery. It was he who turned on his leader and supported leave, just to take down David Cameron. It was he who quit the cabinet, just so he could manoeuvre against Theresa May. And yet his star has continued to rise. He has now retired parliament to push through his own agenda and it’s so far, so good. So why should he change? With every outrageous act, he becomes emboldened.
This is not a man who will later turn around and believe in a genuine parliamentary democracy when the choppy waters of Brexit are cleared. He will do this again and again, unless he is stopped now.
Those that support him should be losing sleep for shame. Rudd, Javid, Hancock and the rest are the squawking parrots to this egomaniac Jafar. The best they can and should do is fly away, whilst Parliament returns to enact its vengeance. And Parliament must unite without equivocation nor hesitation and bring down this man. Once gone, we need to write our constitution to ensure this never happens again.
The genie must be placed firmly back in the bottle.