Red Cliffs Of Dawlish

Red Cliffs Of Dawlish
Red Cliffs Of Dawlish

Thursday, 6 October 2016

Reports From Rebuilding: The Harrogate Agenda (THA)

The Harrogate Agenda: "Continuing the work..."

Page 1 of The Harrogate Agenda: "Demands for governance by the people for the people":-
"The original aim of the Chartists was to reform the political system to make it more democratic. And, although five of their six demands were eventually conceded, their work was not done. The system, although improved, is still very far from democratic. Thus we seek to continue their work, with another six demands, which we intend to be the focus of a new political movement."
On 1st October, 2016, I attended a meeting for The Harrogate Agenda. To choose one single subject to define the heart of the meeting: Power. There was some very deliberate and defined discussion at one point in the meeting concerning Demand 4: The Peoples Consent with respect to the mechanics of power. On the one side you have The Peoples Consent requirement to legislation proposed by Parliament and on the other hand you have Parliament's Consent to legislation proposed by people, which sparked a number of questions: Who then holds true power if the "right of proposal" is curtailed"? Or how is power truly restrained? There's more on this (see the website link above) on Page 14-.

This example is at the heart of the movement mentioned here and in the above passage all within the ambit of Power:-
  • Reform
  • More democratic
  • Continue their work
  • Six Demands
  • new political movement
It seems to me that The Chartists helped build some of the foundations of democracy, but the work is incomplete. And to complete this work or continue it, I think what is required is "people with skills" in political processes. The ability to develop these skills and educate more people with these skills, is I think the essence of real power in politics.

Much is made today, for example today's Daily Politics, just the latest example of types of power:-
  • Money (eg funding sources)
  • Vote Count (eg MPs per party) - this one mentioned
  • Communication (eg data mining)
  • Prestige (eg social hierarchies)

It's tempting to explore so much more and to elaborate on the ideas behind these basic ideas on power so much more, too. But to keep this report succinct: If we stop and consider that maybe our present politics really does revolve around such accepted notions of power as summarized above, then a consideration of where we are at with respect to political change as it exists today, may be in order:-

In times of transition or change, new problems arise. Not only are these new problems to solve, but old ways of viewing problems may themselves become problems too?

When you translate the above "viewing" into how the politicians "view" peoples current problems you end up with the type of "party speeches" that have been aired in the past few days, the usual fodder dolled out year on year:-
  • 'Building a bigger, better, fairer more inclusive society'
  • 'Those at the bottom neglected will be included again'
  • 'We will regain control of immigration, housing, economy and...'
I don't even know, the monotone sound-bites filtered through the way politics is currently viewed according to the context of who has power and who is perceived to hold power. Apparently to then resolve/solve problems through that power that's filtered through the above channels.

Nowhere was this more in evidence than the Referendum on the EU. My assertion is this: The Leave Alliance affliation provided all the tools and much of the education for people to learn to skill themselves up for the Referendum, freely available: Power effectively was being given to people for free! What was potentially possible for people to acquire Real Power ie exercise Real Democracy was almost completely squandered and replaced by the vast majority of people cleaving to the above forms of power - in the hands of "The Few"!

Hence, in my opinion, at The Harrogate Agenda meeting, there was the feeling of being dwarfed by the scale of the problem: If this is such a good idea, why hasn't it already been done before, a "sanity check" style of question?

Interestingly, The Chartists already did attempt this, as stated before! And by the very means of perceived power of their time, too:-
"The strategy employed was to use the scale of support which these petitions and the accompanying mass meetings demonstrated to put pressure on politicians to concede manhood suffrage. Chartism thus relied on constitutional methods to secure its aims..."
What did they rely on that made them successful? I think if there is going to be any kind of success, for The Harrogate Agenda, then finding out what "this" is, will be essential; if it isn't already known? For more discussion on the challenges understanding this, Scribblings From Seaham provides further commentary:-