Monday, 28 October 2013

The Power Inquiry recommendations : a brief review.

Russell Brand talks about two areas of interest to us all in the Paxman interview.

These are

a) the cruelty of the way Political, economic and religious power as we know it behaves - war, poverty, misogyny, concentration of wealth.


b) the desire of ordinary folk who have empathy, intelligence and the energy to render Governance incapable of such cruelty, yet who feel totally excluded from so doing due to the current political systemic and institutionalised set-up.

We are excluded from policy decision making, we are excluded from adequate oversight, and our concerns raised, when harms are caused, are brushed aside.

a well known war criminal, free and at large, unindicted, 
simply because the people are excluded from policy decision making.

The Power Inquiry of 2006 looked at how political and legislative power could be devolved to the grass roots, to those people who are largely imbued with common sense, decency, empathy, intelligence and the energy and a natural desire to render Power incapable of such cruelty such as The Iraq War or the mistreatment of 'failed' asylum seekers, or the mistreatment of the elderly in privatised 'care' and so on, if they had the opportunity.

In essence this is about Power Relationships of old being superseded by shared power with empathy based relationships at it's core as a future and necessary social and cultural trajectory.

Here is a brief list of Power Inquiry Recommendations:

You can download the full POWER INQUIRY REPORT in .pdf format  from this web page.
- it's a very inspiring document!

Rebalancing Power

There needs to be a re-balancing of power between the constituent elements of the political system: a shift of power away from the executive to Parliament, away from central government to local government. 

Much greater clarity, transparency and accountability should be introduced into the relationship between the Executive and supra-national bodies, quangos, business, and interest groups. 

Too much power goes unchecked. The aim here, in The Power Inquiry, is to allow the freedom for our elected representatives to be the mind, heart, eyes, ears and mouth of British citizens speaking at the vert heart of governance.

1. A concordat should be drawn up between executive and Parliament indicating where key powers lie and providing significant powers of scrutiny and initiation for Parliament.

2. Select committees should be given independence and enhanced powers including the power to scrutinise and veto key government appointments and to subpoena witnesses to appear and testify before them.

This should include proper resourcing so that committees can fulfil their remit effectively. The specialist committees in the Upper House should have the power to co-opt people from outside the legislature who have singular expertise, such as specialist scientists, or those who work directly in frontline services when considering complex areas of legislation or policy.

3. Limits should be placed on the power of the whips. Indeed the Party Whip is anti-democratic in nature and should be abolished.

4. Parliament should have greater powers to initiate legislation, to launch public inquiries and to act on public petitions.

5. 70% of the members of the House of Lords should be elected by a 'responsive electoral system' (see 12 below) - and not on a closed party list system - for a maximum of three parliamentary terms. To ensure that this part of the legislature is not comprised of career politicians with no experience outside politics, candidates should be at least 40 years of age.

6. There should be an unambiguous process of decentralisation of powers from central to local government.

7. A concordat should be drawn up between central and local government setting out their respective powers.

8. Local government should have enhanced powers to raise taxes and administer its own finances with oversight and consent by it's local population. Participatory budget decision deliberations by the people from whom that revenue is received.

9. The government should commission an independent mapping of quangos and other public bodies to clarify and renew lines of accountability between elected and unelected authority.

10. Ministerial meetings with representatives of business including lobbyists to be logged, transcripted and listed on a monthly basis.

11. A new overarching select committee should be established to scrutinise the executive's activities in supranational bodies and multilateral negotiations, particularly in relation to the European Union, and to ensure these activities are held to account and conducted in the best interests of the British people.

Real Parties and True Elections

The current way of doing politics is killing politics. Russell Brand is not lying. Russell Brand  is being accurate, Paxman agrees but differs in that he claims that if you don't vote the you have no right to complain, which is an opinion position rather than the reality of Power Politics as we know them because it's a way of avoiding the central issue of powerlessness by being excluded from the key parts of decision making processes.

The fact that the voting system does not provide the ability to reject all the candidates -  None of The Above - is problematic, as is the First Past the Post system.

An electoral and party system which is responsive to the changing values and demands of today's population must be created.

This will allow the development of new political alliances and value systems which will both regenerate existing parties and also stimulate the creation of others.

12. A responsive electoral system - which offers voters a greater choice and diversity of parties and candidates - should be introduced for elections to the House of Commons, House of Lords and local councils in England and Wales to replace the first-past-the-post system.

13. The closed party list system to have no place in modern elections.

14. The system whereby candidates have to pay a deposit which is lost if their votes fall below a certain threshold should be replaced with a system where the candidate has to collect the signatures of a set number of supporters in order to appear on the ballot paper.

15. The Electoral Commission should take a more active role in promoting candidacy so that more women, people from black and minority ethnic communities, people on lower incomes, young people, representatives from vulnerable groups and independents are encouraged to stand.

16. The voting and candidacy age should be reduced to sixteen (with the exception of candidacy for the House of Lords which ought to be come an Upper Chamber).

17. Automatic, individual voter registration at age sixteen should be introduced. This can be done in tandem with the allocation of National Insurance numbers.

18. The citizenship curriculum should be shorter, more practical and result in a qualification.

19. Donations from individuals to parties should be capped at £10,000, and organisational donations capped at £100 per member, subject to full democratic scrutiny within the organisation.

20. State funding to support local activity by political parties should be introduced based on the allocation of individual voter vouchers. 

This would mean that at a general election a voter will be able to tick a box allocating a £3 donation per year from public funds to a party of his or her choice to be used by that party for local activity. It would be open to the voter to make the donation to a party other than the one they have just voted for.

21. Text voting or email voting should only be considered following other reform of our democratic arrangements.

22. The realignment of constituency boundaries should be accelerated.

Downloading Power

The people want to nurture a culture of political engagement in which it becomes the norm for policy and decision-making to occur with direct input from citizens. This is the central plank of The Power Inquiry. This means reform which provides citizens with clear entitlements and procedures by which to exercise that input - from conception through to implementation of any policy or decision.

I repeat it's about the move from older Power Relationships to sharing power at the grass roots, where empathy and connection can inform the decision making processes. Empathy and connection are actually common sense qualities to nurture for there can be no meaningful community without these..

23. All public bodies should be required to meet a duty of public involvement in their decision and policy-making processes.

24. Citizens should be given the right to initiate legislative processes, public inquiries and hearings into public bodies and their senior management.

25. The rules on the plurality of media ownership should be reformed. This is always a controversial issue but there should be special consideration given to this issue in light of the developments in digital broadcast and the internet. Further legislation needs to be drafted to prevent exploitative and manipulative media content that misleads, misinforms or deliberately targets know biases and vulnerabilities of any person or group.

26. A requirement should be introduced that public service broadcasters develop strategies to involve viewers in deliberation on matters of public importance - this would be aided by the use of digital technology.

27. MPs should be required and resourced to produce annual reports, hold AGMs and make more use of innovative engagement techniques.

28. Ministerial meetings with campaign groups and their representatives should be logged, minuted and listed on a monthly basis.

29. A new independent National Statistical and Information Service needs to be created to provide the public with key information free of political spin.

30. 'Democracy hubs' should be established in each local authority area. These would be resource centres based in the community where people can access information and advice to navigate their way through the democratic system.

These ideas are a starting point in the solution to the problems, the frustration, the despondency most people feel when facing up to the problems of Politics and Power.

Russell Brand was merely being honest.

Russell Brand is not the 'answer' and he knows it.

Of course he knows it, he's not stupid and he's not a megalomaniac.

He's a man who has seen through difficult experience some of the consequences of poverty, addiction and he is someone has thought about it in some depth.

And now he is speaking out against the hypocrisy.

As most of us do in our living rooms.

WE are the answer. All of us adults.

This is a choice we must make as mature adults, of we are to give meaning to our affirmations of love to our children, on behalf of their children and grand children.

Kindest regards


"Do what you love, it is your gift to universe."

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Sunday, 27 October 2013

Evolution, Revolution, Diversity and Healing.

I am up for a happier more empathic society.  A diverse range of happier, healthier and empathic cultures.

I wouldn't call it evolution, I'd call it a healing. We live in a wounded Political society that is in denial. This is painful.

Healing is very much a natural part of life, and nature tends to support healing rather than block it.

Using the word evolution sort of justifies the existence of this hierarchically violent system and all it's horrors over such a long time as part of the 'natural flow of things'. Yet we know that there have been many diverse cultures where empathy was at the heart of how they organised themselves. Is this not also part of the natural healthy expression of being human, biologically speaking?

Beating a child to terrorise and control the child can hardly be called 'the natural order of things' yet during the past 6 centuries in Europe it was the traditional approach, just as leaving infants to cry it out to go to sleep is not the 'natural order of things'.

Google the phrase 'poisonous pedagogy' and find out more.

Nor is a 'revolution' where the oppressed engage in organised violence to beat the oppressors to terrorise and control them, any better. Cuba has some merits, yet it also shows signs of unresolved trauma.

What we see in the middle east is that peaceful thoughtful movements have all been undermined by the introduction of violence on their 'side'.

It hasn't worked in terms of delivering better,healthier and more empathic political socialism systems.

Were the Middle Eastern Springs 'evolutions', revolutions or just the result of a more well informed empathy, being expressed by large numbers of people seeking a healing, a healthier society?

Kindest regards


Do what you love, it's Your Gift to Universe

Russel Brand : talk about the issues, not about the personality

Attack the man, avoid the discourse.

If we use the Russell Brand story to discuss and explore the issues, rather than talk about Brand, we have a better chance of changing things...

None of us KNOW anything about him other than his media career, and the issue here is he is saying things we know are basically true on a public funded forum that refuses to admit those truths.

So the issue is what we need to discussing.

And that issue is HOW, in practical terms, can we shift Power from a Centralised Executive to the grass roots?

Do you have any practical suggestions on this, or insights? And would you like to share them?

I'd like to hear them.

It's frustrating to observe the manner in which people are talking about Russell Brand, and not the issue we all face.
His comments are relevant, even if they are incomplete.

So here's my current take on the situation we are faced with.

1. Voting for people or Political Parties who, once in positions of Power, act in the interests of Power, irrespective of the mandate they sought during the election or claimed once in Office is not a genuine democracy.

If one votes under the current system, one has conceded consent to whatever those 'elected' do, even if they do different to their election manifesto, even if what they do harms you. The only people who are not ruled by consent, are those who DO NOT VOTE.

Their voices are censored because they refuse to submit to the intellectually morbid system of electoral politics currently in place. They are castigated and chastised for their refusal to play the game whose rules the comprehend as being biased towards Power, away from the people.

In other words, the VOTING people of the UK, by the very act of legitimising Governance as we know it, consented to the Iraq and Afghan Wars, to the bail-outs of the banks, to the austerity cuts because the act of voting as it stands is merely a fig leaf for Centralised Power to RULE, which continues to behave as it has ever done.

The VOTING people of the UK by refusing to THINK about the REAL VALUE of voting give their consent, perhaps unwittingly, yet that unthinking practice of voting 'because it's the thing we are told to do because people struggled so hard for the vote' is avoidable by examining the situation using information that has been verified and THINKING clearly on the matter...

2. Democracy if it is to be fully realised requires that citizens have a direct and active role in those decision making processes that affect their lives. This has been rejected by the Political Classes out of hand.

3. The Power Inquiry of 2006 addressed this very issue in some detail, and it's findings revealed that many, many more people were, and are engaged in community and voluntary work that has an effect BECAUSE the of futility of voting under the current system. That is not apathy. That is working around an adverse situation to bring benefit to their communities and to all communities.

David Cameron called the Power Inquiry 'impractical'.

Then he and his advisor's, recognising the threat implicit in the Power Inquiry Report, sought to undermine that voluntary and community action, and the political awareness it represented, by de-funding councils which lead to defunding of voluntary and community action, and by privatising aspects of it to replace those voluntary services with for-profit services.

Had Labour been in Power, they would have done pretty much the same, as they bailed out the banks when it was not necessary. None of the parties in power had much concern for the people of Iraq, much less have they any real concern the most vulnerable people in the UK, including our children.

4. The sheer frustration of activists who have access to information on the issues we all face that can be checked, tested and verified and to which Power, if it was being exercised for the peoples benefit, SHOULD respond with appropriate action, yet does not, is intense.

5. So I urge that people write about actions that have taken place and actions that we can take that can have an effect, rather than criticise a public face, Russell Brand, who makes commentary.

For example, WHY is Tony Blair a free man? His actions transgressed International and National Law, as well as being immoral.

His actions broke 6 international treaties, including the Kellog Briand Pact of 1928 which was the basis of the Nuremberg Trials. Furthermore, he and those who enabled those wars to take place are liable under the UN Genocide Convention, and under UK Law The 2001 Human Rights Act,

The same applies to the NATO bombing of Libya, which he and  supported fully, and David Cameron actioned, and would also have applied had Cameron succeeded in his attempts to garner support for the bombing of Syria.

Had these Laws been more properly studied and understood, perhaps the population of the UK could have acted in a way that might have prevented those wars from being pursued by the UK Government at the very least.

7. Young people SEE what is happening, they understand the harm and pain so many people are suffering and that these harms are AVOIDABLE and wonder why their elders are so ineffective, so feeble, in the face of avoidable calamities.

Russell Brand understands this.. and this is what he was talking about - people want Power because we are intelligent, empathic and very well educated as to how the world works, and we feel the need to change that by direct participation.

We want to be able to construct laws and have full oversight of Governance.
And this is both reasoned and rational.

Kindest regards


Do what you love, it's Your Gift to Universe