Housing crisis, Oxford

Oxford Democracy Builders brought people together to discuss the current housing crisis in the city. After some introduction and friendship-building, they began by talking in small groups about our personal experiences of housing in Oxford. Moving on to talk about the causes, many interconnected factors were noted, but they all seemed to be related fundamentally to politics: to the politics of land and property ownership and to finance. Report here

Convention on the constitution moves step nearer

Plans for a citizens-led convention on the constitution have taken a major step forward as a result of the successful Assembly for Democracy held in London on November 14 jointly called with Occupy Democracy.

Report by Paul Feldman; photos Peter Arkell

A planning group will meet on December 5 to start the preparations for a convention, with suggestions that it could take place as early as May next year. Everyone present at the “Re-Imagine” Assembly was invited to be part of this process. Continue reading

Changing constitutions: needs must when the devil drives – Paul Feldman

Changing a constitution often involves unconstitutional actions. Just ask the ruling class. Down the centuries, they’ve used the most unorthodox of means, even what might be considered unlawful methods, to make fundamental changes to the state.

A couple of episodes from the 17th century, when the substance of the present constitution was settled, show how history moves in an unconventional, even revolutionary way, when it comes to shifting state power from one class to another.

The Century of Revolution is what historian Christopher Hill named his ground-breaking book first published in 1961. His sweeping account of a century that saw England transformed from a minor power to a dominant state is about social and political revolutions.

In 1649, after years of civil war, the Parliamentary forces under Oliver Cromwell executed Charles I, despite his claim to rule by divine right granted by God himself. England became a republic and a Commonwealth. The House of Lords was abolished, as was monarchy. Hill called it a great, yet incomplete revolution. Continue reading

Democracy, assemblies and environment policy

This article builds on a talk at Eco-cultures: Glasgow’s Festival of Environmental Research, Policy and Practice. It was in a round table session entitled Routes for collaborative research and activism in Scottish policy-making. The speakers were Patrick Harvey, Green MSP; Luke Devlin, Centre for Human Ecology; Penny Cole Assemblies for Democracy and anti-fracking activist; Helen Greene, Researcher in Geology, University of Glasgow. Continue reading

Exploring the ‘fracking polemic’ through democratic Convergence – Craig Thomas, University of Manchester

Assemblies For Democracy invite people to an event run in association with Craig Thomas from the CURE research centre at the University of Manchester. The event will be based around a new role-play game built from Craig Thomas’s research on conflict around proposed fracking in Greater Manchester. The focus of the game is on stakeholders that came together around opposition to an exploratory well drilled into the shale bed in Barton Moss, Salford. Continue reading

Re-imagine Democracy – Towards a Citizen’s Convention on the Constitution

Jointly called by Assemblies for Democracy and Occupy Democracy at the Runnymede Festival for Democracy on the 800th anniversary of the Magna Carta.

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Saturday, 14 November 2015 from 10:45 to 16:30
Waterloo Action Centre
Baylis Road, SE1 7AA

with
John McDonnell MP, Labour shadow chancellor
Natalie Bennett, leader Green Party
John Hendy QC, Institute of Employment Rights
Liz Davies, Haldane Society of Socialist Lawyers executive
Stuart White, openDemocracy
plus speakers from Occupy Democracy and others

A hunger for democratic change is sweeping the UK, expressed in last year’s independence referendum in Scotland and in the wave of enthusiasm for renewal generated by Jeremy Corbyn’s stunning campaign. Continue reading

Big Brother is watching Glasgow (with technology tested in Gaza) by Graeme Arnott

In this blog first published on the website of the Scottish Left Project, GRAEME ARNOTT points out the human rights implications of increased surveillance in Scotland, much of it using technology first developed by the Israeli military and tested on Palestinians.

The [Investigatory Powers Bill provides us with] powers that I believe we need, whether on communications data, or on the content of communications, I feel very comfortable these are absolutely right for a modern, liberal democracy.” – David Cameron

In contrast to those who would prefer a revolution without a revolution, radicals are possessed by what Alain Badiou calls the ‘passion of the Real: if you say A – equality, human rights, freedoms – you should have to say B – the terror needed to really defend and assert the A’. But what, if, rather than applying Badiou’s formula to the radical left, we apply it to Cameron’s unrestrained Conservative majority government? If you say A – inequality, loss of human rights, freedom of capital, freedom to privatize, deregulate, and exploit the planet – then you should have to say B – the terror needed to defend and assert the A.’ Then we see that when Jen Stout wrote in an earlier Left Project article that austerity and surveillance are the primary features of unrestrained Tory rule, she wasn’t simply stating an empirical fact about the government’s future policy plans but rightly setting out that both need to be regarded in their proper historical context. Whereas austerity is the unrestrained class war of A, the paranoid surveillance spy-state is the Tory terror that will be used to ensure its success. Continue reading