Judith and I feared our meeting in Christ Church Hall, Skipton on Saturday (20th June) would be something of a damp squib. Lots of people in our existing group were away for one reason or another and a delay in notification by 38degrees HQ meant that we were feeling a bit pessimistic and did wonder if the 18 people who had signed up online would come! However we arrived to set up with refreshments and display boards and very soon had our first helper.
Judith was kept busy from 1.30 until 2pm serving drinks and was amazed when she escaped the kitchen to see 27 people in the room. Not only that but over half the faces were new to us. After looking at the information on the NHS, TTIP, Fracking and Austerity they had all found their way to a table and were happily chatting.
After 15 minutes of welcome, some background information and a look at 38 Degrees Facebook – thanks Stephen Walpole for providing the IT. People chose a table according to topic (NHS, TTIP, Fracking and Austerity) and the discussion began. Forty five minutes later it was still in full steam, but it was time to draw things together.
Before we had our feed back we shared pictures from London both from Steve Davies who was actually there and the BBC with commentary from Stephen. Thanks to Steve and Stephen for their parts in this. It was good to feel the connection and that we were doing our bit in Skipton too.
We had asked each person in the group to give their reasons for choosing that particular topic and then together formulate a single statement. This was possibly best achieved by the austerity group – who said that ‘Austerity means trickle up not trickle down.’
The fracking group decided that despite mounting evidence and messages from America that the Government was making choices that would benefit multi national companies not communities or the environment.
The problems with the NHS were again deemed as an economic choice of underfunding, opening the door to large areas of privatisation and again gains for the multi – nationals. Once we lose it we will never be able to restore it.
TTIP is secret, threatens our democracy, environment,workers rights and much more and is in the interest of the multi nationals giving them even more power.
There was much discussion around the point, that there are other ways of running an economy. The problems we are having are all related to the neoliberal economy where wealth is supposed to trickle down. Whereas in reality the wealth of the rich is increasing and the poor are becoming poorer. These alternatives are something we would like to know more about and the possibility of having an event on this subject was mooted and the website positive money was recommended as was Ha-Joon Chang who teaches economics at Cambridge University and is the author of 23 Things They Don’t Tell You About Capitalism, and Economics: the User’s Guide, which is apparently a fairly easy read. It was suggested that he could be asked if he was willing to speak.
It was pointed out to everyone that the only theory of economics to be studied at university at the moment is neoliberal. This caused surprise but was backed up by Simon Watt who 20 years ago was sacked because he was asking his students to look at the problems in this system! This lead us to thinking, that we were not just suffering from misinformation from the privately owned press and from television, but knowledge was being suppressed in other ways, not just in education but by people being in fear of losing their jobs if they speak out.
There was also discussion about our parliamentary practice and dismay at the fact that despite vested interest as long as the interest was declared MP’s are allowed to vote. There was quite a bit of political discussion with thoughts that parties should work together on issues and that democratic reform was something else we might look at.
The third group task had been to think about how we get the message out…
Firstly we need to be properly informed ourselves through:- meetings and discussion like this; sharing information on line – email/newsletters; 38degreesairedale facebook; attending other events; holding our own events.
Secondly we need to educate others. The 10 display boards could be used to create displays in other places:- street displays; coffee mornings; any group we attend. We felt we needed to be back on the street where we met and talked to people. Fracking could possibly be the current topic. It would be good if 38 degrees held more action days. Plus open events, films, talks. Viv surprised herself by agreeing to talk to a WI group!
Collaborating with other groups within and without 38degrees. Getting in contact with the people who share our issues. Being aware of and joining some of their activities. Inviting them to ours. Floe wants us to consider other groups known to us as individuals who we feel would be sympathetic to linking with us to plan and organise a big public meeting.
The fracking protest in Preston was mentioned by Linda and possible plans were put in place for Mike to take Lisa and Linda, This happened – next blog post.
Finding ways to reach and involve young people
We need to use the internet to the best of our ability as this is the way 38 degrees work
38 degrees support us by distributing information of a large meeting to anyone in the constituency or a certain radius of Skipton was mentioned.
The meeting was brought to an end at 4pm as I had promised that would be the latest time. I for one went home with a spinning head. I really enjoyed the afternoon and feel the group has been strengthened by some very thoughtful caring people with a great depth of knowledge and a variety of skills. I have been in touch with some since and think we need to follow this up within the next month.
I’m afraid the pictures I took were poor as it was an after thought – the group discussion was over and I just snapped quickly This is the best I could salvage! The good ones above were taken by Lynn Harrison.
Some comments received…
I was in this NHS discussion group. We exchanged a lot of information and concerns, which were reported back to the meeting.
I thought it was a very successful day and was impressed by the various views so openly expressed.
Thanks so much for organising the day of Saturday. I really enjoyed the discussion and ideas that were that were being bandied about. Pauline Allon
And Information post the meeting…
Thank you for your email and for organising the meeting. I said I would provide details of the economics author who I recommend for clarity of writing about alternative views. He is solely focussed on economics, so the reader will have to consider where these things apply to their experience.
Ha-Joon Chang 23 Things They Don’t Tell You About Capitalism (a really readable introduction to criticisms of the established order)
Economics: The User’s Guide (deals with a range of alternative economic viewpoints; very readable but largely about economic theory) Both of these are available in paperback. He also has a website which links to his articles and other media work: http://hajoonchang.net/
I hope this is of use. I had the impression that several people at the meeting might be interested in following this up.
3 pieces of info from Simon Watt …
My Department at Bradford had 3 profs…a Welsh Brit who could not speak Welsh; a Scots Brit who had never heard of Thomas Nairn; and an Ulster Prod Brit who had never heard of corruption. I tried to organise an inter-Uni exchange programme with the Univ of Philippines to ask why the respective ruling classes refused to invest in productive technologies but they said that this was too close to the knuckle. Pathetic. Really pathetic.
I went to the Positive money meeting last night. The pies and ale are really great at Bradford Brewery. Regarding economic teaching we were informed that the Economics Journals now only accept academic articles from neo-liberal schools of thought so academics have no choice but to choose these areas of study. This is how it works…soft power
Devolution of Health and Social Care to UK Cities: The end of the ‘National’ Health Service?
The Institute for Health and Wellbeing,
I went to the meeting organised by the Institute for Health and Wellbeing in Leeds last night. The speakers presented the reasons why the NHS has to embrace devolution – it is the size of the Red Army and the Red Army could not be managed from Moscow. The NHS needs to embrace the needs of the local and respond to the local political process.
The slides and a video of the meeting will be made available from Leeds Becket
So all good stuff for a social democratic world … except that we do not have a social democratic world in Britain but a neo-liberal one that will cut the tripes out of the NHS if we allow it.
The meeting sparked up when several members of the Save Our NHS Campaign spoke up and asked what will be the consequences of policies of fiscal austerity and privatisation on the future NHS? They pointed out that the health of people is largely determined by the social class and position of the population and any health policy that ignores this is half cocked.
But these comments that called a spade a spade were completely ignored by the panel and it is almost as if the neo-liberals do not exist.
So this is the reason why our 38 Degrees Save Our NHS movement is still absolutely necessary – to raise the ‘spade is a spade’ issues and force these onto the agendas when the professionals have been either bought off or are afraid to speak.
Save Our NHS York and others are doing excellent and brave work and I think that the Airedale group can do well to build links with them.