The Labour Party today signalled the end of the neoliberal consensus which has existed since the premiership of the late Margaret Thatcher. In a speech held on the steps of St Pauls Cathedral in London, Labour Party leader Ed Miliband presented his party’s Reclamation Manifesto in a bid to end what he describes as ‘the bankruptcy of ideas’. Today we carry the Miliband speech and the manifesto in full.
The Reclamation Speech
Mr Miliband began his addressed the crowd of several hundred and a television audience in the millions this afternoon. His speech read as follows:
“Seven hundred years ago a group of clergy, merchants and other Anglo Saxons met in the churchyard of this Cathedral to draft the Magna Carta. This great charter set out to redefine the rights and responsibilities of the Monarchy and the people of the nation at that time.
The Labour Party was itself formed out of a political pressure group seeking equality at the dawn of the 20th century. Our party was founded on the radical idea that the injustices and inequities of our world were not set in stone. Far from being natural and inevitable, they were unnatural and manufactured by those with a vested interest in an unjust system.
We gather once again in that same revolutionary spirit today.
Once again, the institutions of politics, media, economics and justice are no longer serving the needs of the majority of our people. Indeed, it seems with every new day the balance tips yet further in the opposite direction, with the majority of the people serving the needs of a minority of political and corporate interests.
In light of this, the existing distinctions of political division are rendered worthless. What use is it to have a choice between a party working in the interests of the state, and a party working in the interests of corporations – if neither state nor corporation exist to serve any interests but their own?
This is the problem which our electorate has been wrestling with for too long. We have been spending our time wringing our hands over a deficit of finance, when the great travesty of our time is a deficit of ideas.
Some will call this manifesto ‘dangerous’ in order to keep the lid on the box of our collective spirits. But, in the words of Oscar Wilde ‘An idea that is not dangerous is unworthy of being called an idea at all.’
This manifesto is dangerous. It is dangerous to every last man and woman in the country who benefits from this unjust order.
The current leadership talks of an Aspiration Nation. But an Aspiration Nation cannot exist where the fragile sparks of ambition in our children are snuffed out by blanket injustice.
It is time to reclaim our schools and universities, our fields and rivers, our parliament and courts, our privacy and public spaces, our currency and economy. This is the Reclamation Manifesto.”
There Is Always an Alternative
Of course, this rally hasn’t happened yet. We are still stuck with Neoliberalism. Whoever we vote for, public services are outsourced and privatised, civil liberties are curtailed and all decisions are based on their ultimate economic value, not their human value. This piece was not a complete flight of fantasy, but what it would look like if a major political party harnessed some of the alternatives already in place in the UK and other societies. If you like them go and start using them. The truth is; we cannot simply criticise how things are. We must create and seek out new and better ways, and transition to them.
You might not agree with these ideas, but that doesn’t mean you don’t have a new idea that might be even better. So, let’s take our upset and channel it into determination and creativity. One mind at a time, one step at a time, we are already building the alternative.
So, pour yourself a cup of something delightful and prepare to hear some new ideas….
The Reclamation Manifesto – Core Principles
“The Reclamation Manifesto presents a real and radical alternative to this depressing, demoralising and defunct system we live under today. But before we go into the content of Reclamation, we must first look at the context. We believe the context is decisive. As a glass shapes the water within it, so the values of a society shape the actions of its institutions and citizens.
Reclamation bases itself on four core principles.
Our world today treats compassion as a weakness or an irrelevance.
We will be compassionate human beings. Compassionate in our words, compassionate in our actions, and compassionate in our institutions.
Our world today is full of blame and empty of accountability.
We will be accountable for our words and our deeds and for ensuring the two match up. We are accountable for our own behaviour and our collective endeavours.
Our world today is a respect free zone.
We will respect ourselves, each other and the planet that sustains us – in theory and in practise.
Our world today does not value people equally.
We will live in an equal world. There will be no normal in our world. A persons gender, sexuality, race, religious belief (or none), age or physical abilities will be accepted and their needs catered for equally.
These are not just values. These are commitments. They are the practical and philosophical foundation of our new idea. Compassion, Accountability, Respect and Equality – CARE will be the context of our society. All things will flow from these basic, immovable principles.
The Reclamation Manifesto – Content
Reclaiming Currency and Contribution
As it Is
Most nations currently use a fiat currency. Money has ceased to be related to endeavour, production or human and social value. Money can be made simply by having money, yet far more of it can be had by creating debt.
This has created a grossly unequal society where greed and socially worthless activities are rewarded, whilst compassion and socially useful activities are not. It is dangerous to create a conflict of interest between the right thing and reward.
The lack of access to money creates barriers to people fulfilling on their ultimate contributions to society. Most people work in jobs that bear no relation whatsoever to what they are best at or what they truly want to do.
The system of employment itself is illogical and unnatural. We have narrowed the breadth of a person’s contributions to their networks, their communities and our world to ‘a job’ (paid) and everything else (unpaid). This job takes up the majority of their productive time. A person is not free to create their own timetable and their other possible contributions are limited to the hours outside this job.
As It Could Be
The key to creating a genuine equality of wealth is to establish a currency which is common to all. The one common currency we have is time. In recent years, Time Banks have appeared across the country and indeed the world. Time Banks will become the financial centre of our new society.
A person’s time becomes a currency. A person contributes their time in some endeavour, they receive time credits, and the customer account is debited.
At its most basic level, you acquire wealth by contributing more than you consume.
Social Credits can be created for proposed social programmes (see Democracy).
Employment as Contribution
There is no such thing as a job. A person is free to provide their labour in receipt for Time Bank Credits in one main role or many roles. A person’s ambitions will be detached from the accumulation of wealth. The freedom and flexibility will promote entrepreneurship, while strengthening communities, families and friendships.
A person’s skills and capabilities are held within the bank. Every possible skill and capability will be included, from brain surgery to making a cup of tea or reading someone a story. These banks can exist in high streets, schools, community centres or online. Every person will have an account opened at birth and can accumulate credits by trading their time to fulfil someone’s need.
By opening up the range of contributions, many people who are not able to contribute for remuneration in today’s society would be able to in this one. People with depression, people with anxiety, people with severe disabilities; all would have access to contribute something and thereby feel of equal value.
Every person will receive sufficient credits to meet the cost of living. This will enable people to provide their labour, skills and capabilities freely.
Citizens will create organisations and recruit Contributors, as they set up enterprises and recruit employees today.
People’s capabilities will be valued equally.
Trade in Goods
This leaves the matter of trading raw materials and products, as the above system would only cover labour and services.
The price of raw materials will be weighted by sustainability. A product will be given a Time Bank price calculated by its Sustainability and Time value.
There will be no taxation as there will no longer be inequalities of wealth or a disconnect between wealth and contribution.
Large social programmes will become campaigns voted for and managed through the political process (see Democracy).
Fiat Currency and International Trade
All current monetary wealth will be unusable in the domestic economy. It will be sequestered and dispersed to the regional Time Banks. Local governance will choose how best to spend these funds while the outside world continues to operate a capitalist economy.
Reclaiming Democracy and Citizenship
As It Is
The current electoral and parliamentary political system centralises power, creates arbitrary dividing lines, and discourages active participation. The results are political careerism, the conformity of politicians to an unworkable consensus, and declining political engagement in the general population.
As It Could Be
Politics and Governance
There will be a new non hierarchical model of governance: Community, Local, Regional, National and International. This will look like a web, rather than a pyramid.
Regional, National and International assemblies will see a selection process for candidates. These candidates will receive standard Time Bank remuneration.
Representatives cannot function in the same role for longer than one year without a gap of one electoral cycle.
Representatives are not leaders; they simply present the proposals and consensus choices agreed by their assemblies.
A new constitution will be drafted in General Assemblies held in communities across the country and online based on the model successfully used by Iceland in 2012.
Anyone can raise an idea by submitting a Petition. All Petitions are Anonymous. Where a Petition receives 10% Community Support it becomes a Proposal which the owner raises at their Community General Assembly.
If it is a Community Proposal it can be ratified and becomes a Resolution, if not it carries over to the relevant assembly.
All citizens over the age of 16 will we granted full rights to participate in the political system. But all citizens will have equal voice to speak in General Assemblies and raise proposals.
Retirement will become a redundant concept. There will be no job to retire from, a person might simply change their contributions, or reduce the amount they contribute until they are no longer able to contribute. People will be free to contribute as much or as little as they can for their entire life.
Reclaiming Education and Learning
As It Is
The current education system is unsuited to the society we are out to create. It acts as a career pipeline rather than a centre for critical thinking, creativity and self expression. Education is also seen as something for young people.
As it Could Be
All citizens will receive a Maths, English, Science and Citizenship education stipulated by a National Curriculum (Citizenship will take in Currency, Politics and Governance, Food Production and Home Economics). This will ensure standards are agreed and maintained in matters of criticality to social function. All other lessons will be devolved to Community level to agree upon. Schools will be under the authority of the Community Assembly.
Any citizen wishing to learn something outside of their school’s curriculum can recruit a contributing teacher using their Time Bank credits.
Communities will be free to set the timetable and the length of the school day and terms.
Communities will be free to determine the teaching format and location – school would cease to refer to a building, but the community of children and teachers.
Citizens are free to attend any school in their Community.
Universities will be managed by the Local assembly with the same rules that apply to schools.
Life Long Learning
Any citizen can attend School or University at any time in their lives. People will be actively encouraged to return to School and University periodically. The knowledge and cultural gap between age groups will likely reduce.
Reclaiming the Commons
As it Is
The Commons consists of the air, water, land, natural resources, contents of our rivers and lakes, our forests, wooded areas, heath lands and moors. They are the common resources that are accessible as a resident of earth. In recent decades these have been privatised and commercialised. We assert that no human being can own these things.
As it Could Be
Owning the Commons
The Commons is owned by everybody. The collective will is to be exercised through the Political process.
Expanding the Commons
The Commons will be expanded to take in contemporary Commons such as the internet, software and other items which people Contribute for social utility.
Maintaining the Commons
Maintenance of the Commons will be viewed as a national duty for each individual. There will be a Citizenship Day once a week, during which citizens maintain the Commons. Relevant training will be captured by Citizenship education and contributions managed through Community Programmes. A citizen is free to choose which day of the week they make Citizenship Day, and which Community Programmes they contribute to with the following stipulations:
1) They cannot Contribute to the same programme more than once in a month
2) They must Contribute to at least one programme a month from each of the three sectors (Environment, Sanitation, Creative)
Those who choose to Contribute to maintaining The Commons (as a profession), will spend their Citizenship Day reviewing and contributing to proposals for National Commons Resolutions.
The transition in economics and other areas will render much private space obsolete. Community Assemblies can choose how to reallocate private spaces in their areas that were purchased through the current system of unequal wealth.
For example, the City of London Community might wish to turn the obsolete financial centre into a residential area and resolve the housing crisis. Communities might wish to demolish supermarkets and replace them with City Farms and Community Gardens.*
As it Is
The Crime and Justice system has become the dustbin for the biggest social issue of our time: poverty.
England and Wales currently jail 147 out of every 100,000 of our citizens. As of February 2013 84,424 were in prison and the prison population has more than doubled in the last twenty years. More than half these prisoners serve more than six months and just 17,000 are for violent crimes. The others are serving time for burglary and drug abuse – which are essentially the criminalisation of poverty.
The Law is written in a language which excludes people.
As it Could Be
We assert that by equalising wealth, decriminalising most drug use and rebalancing values and reward, much of what now constitutes criminal activity will simply cease to exist.
Legal terms and language will be redefined, making it more accessible and understandable to those outside the profession. We will retain the legal and judicial system and jurisprudence.
Policing will be both a profession and a function of Citizenship Day. Communities will explore crime prevention policies.
Prisons will be replaced by Rehabilitation Centres. These centres will focus on teaching, counselling and supportive therapies to encourage the person to address the underlying issues causing their behaviour.
We will maintain one National Prison to retain those who we have been unable to rehabilitate within Communities. This prison will retain a focus on Rehabilitation, but provide a greater level of security. Prison records will only exist for those who have attended the National Prison.
By taking these steps, we will reclaim our spaces, our institutions and power over our own lives while creating a nation where we care for and count on each other.
Please use the comments section to put forward your own great ideas. If you think the Reclamation Manifesto is awesome….follow on twitter.