WHY DO WE NEED A NEW GRASSROOTS MOVEMENT?
The United Kingdom has been a very wealthy country for several hundred years. In the 19th century it was the richest and most advanced economy on Earth, and it is still the fifth biggest in the world today.
But our ‘democratic’ system of governance has consistently failed to ensure the fruits of the UK’s economic achievements are equitably shared amongst all its citizens.
Furthermore, even though the British Empire was consigned to history in the years after WW2, the UK’s military services have continued to be used for imperialist wars around the globe. Our young men and women have been repeatedly sacrificed in these conflicts. Untold terror and hardship have been inflicted on millions, generating resentment towards Britain and forcing millions of desperate people to seek refuge outside their birthplace.
The inequality and poverty at home, along with the enthusiasm for waging wars overseas, illustrates the inadequacy of our so-called ‘representative’ democracy. Working class communities in particular, here and abroad, have been hardest hit by this failure to actually represent the best interests of the electorate.
That is why a grassroots resistance movement is being established to challenge the consistent failure of our elected representatives to deliver a domestic and foreign policy agenda that prioritises the interests of people.
Participatory, rather than representative, democracy would give citizens real influence over those in authority. The present system only offers the chance to vote once every four or five years, but then politicians are pretty much a law unto themselves until the next election. Corporate lobbyists circle like vultures around the Palace of Westminster and have far too much sway over parliament’s proceedings.
Changing the political status quo won’t be easy though, not least because it suits the super-rich elites and corporate sharks. These vested interests have been gorging themselves on the proceeds of deregulation and privatisation for 40 years. That is why we need to build a movement based on democracy and the community solidarity epitomized by socialism.
The Covid-19 crisis has exposed the shortcomings of deregulation and privatisation, as well as highlighting the crucial importance of state intervention and community solidarity. After years of underinvestment, many of our public services are either no longer available or on the verge of collapse. That is why this grassroots resistance movement will aim to build capacity in communities to maintain services and create alternative provision that is no longer provided by the state.
Climate change poses an existential crisis for humanity, so we will push for an ambitious green new deal. This should be funded through a different economic prospectus that understands the opportunities afforded a country like the UK with its own sovereign currency. We will call for Overt Monetary Financing to be utilised instead of automatically resorting to the use of government bonds, which really amount to corporate welfare. The creative use of pound sterling could turn the economy into an engine for delivering public good instead of private greed.
It is against that background that we will try to raise expectations and put the shortcomings of public service provision into a political and monetary context. We want to ensure that people are armed with the information they need to challenge the failures of central and local government. International examples of interventionist governments, demonstrating how the state can be a force for good, and the historical achievements of municipal socialism, will be a source of inspiration.
We will argue for a very different method of measuring economic success, where the elimination of poverty is centre stage, and government prioritises the wellbeing of the public over boardroom greed.
We will be pressing for a massive expansion of worker cooperatives to address the obscene income inequality in the workplace to ensure workers enjoy the full benefit of their industry.
We will be demanding that all public services are run by the public, for the public, through transparent, democratic governance structures, which means bringing all the outsourced public services back inhouse.
We will be insisting that utilities and other strategic companies are run in the national interest instead of free market capitalists, which means bringing them into democratically accountable public ownership.
We will be calling for all public institutions to be accountable to local communities through both local elections and participatory budgeting.
We are promoting a bold agenda, but it is not our intention to supplant any existing organisation. We plan to bring community and political activists together to create an unstoppable momentum for change that politicians will find impossible to ignore and to ensure those elected to represent us are held to account.