Monthly Archives: November 2016
A member recently emailed to say that she is ‘hoping for a look at the economic consequences of Brexit at WMNEG and what we should be arguing as key for any final deal’. Here is NEF’s recent mailing, which offers four questions.
To view, click here.
Marc Stears, Chief Executive, New Economics Foundation, spoke at the Foundation’s relaunch event which took place at Coin Street Neighbourhood Community Centre on Tuesday 11 October 2016. He made three points:
- This is a moment of urgent need
- Old mechanisms for change don’t work any more.
- Primary mechanism for change: making connections with those rooted in their communities.
From a recent mailing:
The New Economics Foundation exists to build a new economy where people really take control of their lives.
We have witnessed a huge step towards real control over Brexit. The Government wanted to design its plan in secret, but the High Court has ruled that the process must be brought out into the open and debated in Parliament.
This is a stunning and welcome development. But the control of Brexit must not end with our politicians.
We now need an open and honest debate about the future of our country and the urgent questions we face:
- What should our place be in relation to the single market?
- What is the future of free movement of people?
- How can we maintain the environmental and social protections that membership of the EU has given us for so long?
- And, perhaps most importantly of all, how can we bring people together again when they have been so deeply divided by all of these issues and more.
Just over three weeks NEF’s new agenda for change was launched. Community workers, campaigners, trade unionists and politicians from all the major parties came together to show how we can give people the tools they need to take real control of these important national debates.
These questions must not be resolved behind closed doors, either in Number 10 or in the Houses of Parliament themselves. They must be resolved in the country, with a clear sense of the options and vibrant public discussion.
Professor Hatcher’s presentation to the West Midlands New Economics Group (27 October at Friends of the Earth) was a critique of the new West Midlands Combined Authority (WMCA) – its structure, its analysis and its programme for economic growth.
The absence of democratic accountability was an easy target. No-one had a good word to say about that. It will not even be up to the minimum level of the 25-member directly-elected Greater London Assembly that holds the London Mayor to account. Besides which there is and has always been no evidence of a ground swell of support for an extra layer of regional government.
The report produced by the WMCA failed to show in the Professor’s opinion, that there was a serious skills deficit holding the region back. Evidence from employers indicated that most of their employees are under-employed and are over-qualified for the job. [This should not be surprising given the huge expansion in higher education]. However Prof Hatcher did not define ‘skills’ or expand on the difference between ‘skills’ and ‘qualifications’. To my mind employers have always complained that young people emerging from school, and now from university, were not ready for the world of work. How could they be? Every workplace has its own culture and working practices. Practical skills are invariably learnt on the job.
So what are the businessmen who dominate the WMCA, complaining about? They have put aside a minute budget for ‘improving schools’ (or skills) that looks purely tokenistic. It’s as if they are saying what they are expected to say. Prof Hatcher let us to draw our own conclusions.
I see business people taking over schools and other learning facilities with the support of a government that believes business people know how to run them better than teachers, academics or librarians. Schools have always been infiltrated by ideologues, fundamentalists and propagandists of one sort or another [perhaps the British public was horrified by the Trojan Horse affair because the majority of them are not muslims].
Business people seem to believe that if they can control the education system they can promulgate the gospel of enterprise and private profit. I think this is no more worthy than promulgating a fundamentalist minority religion. Business people take it for granted that they have the support of the majority of the British people for doing this but we have never had a referendum on the question and it is certain that the nation would be equally divided on the issue.
What was clear to me at the end of the meeting is that we cannot rely on the WMCA to take account of the views of people who are not wholeheartedly pro-business. Going by their pronouncements so far there is not much chance of that.
Alan Clawley 1 November 2016