Democracy Action Working Group (DAWG) Minutes 20.3.14
PLEASE NOTE THERE WILL BE NO DAWG MEETING ON 27th MARCH, as this would clash with NHS meetings.
Next meet will be Thu 3 April, 6pm-8pm @ Friends Meeting House, Euston Rd.
Apologies from Mike (can’t do Thursdays), George M and Sam and, following the meeting, from Phil.
Present: Steve B., Janos, Chris. Soon after – Obi, and finally John @ item 4.
1) Informal for 5
2) No minutes from last meeting because Sam has been unwell – Chris will try to put together brief notes?
3) In respect of date of Action, noted from contact with Unison that Major action planned by TUC will be on 18th October, which had been the date favoured by some of DAWG.
Email feedback on minutes of 6th March from Frank Taylor who is steeped in the history of democracy and a practical campaigner for reform. Shares Clive’s view that Parliamentary system is beyond reform and emphasises that one has in the first instance to establish civil liberties prior to rebuilding the political and administrative base for fully participatory democracy, this being associated with consideration of appropriate economic model.
Sceptical about the power of ‘street actions’ and acknowledges importance of achieving a critical mass, but scepticism about parliamentary model leads him to say that ‘a vote can’t count’. Hopes to come to meeting next week from Shropshire and offers to help organise a big planning meeting at venue he knows.
4) In keeping with direction from the previous meeting, Chris had quickly put together a one and a bit page ‘Statement’ for DAWG as a stimulus for discussion with George M, John and Sam. Chris emphasised that he had been wrong in suggesting the title of ‘Initial’ Statement. John had independently produced an as yet incomplete three and a half page critique of the damaging dysfunctionality of our parliamentary system, and later in the meeting made it clear that it was a ‘grievance’ statement that he wished to complete for his own satisfaction and possible subsequent use. When discussed in the context of a DAWG Statement, it was suggested that it would be too long and that the bulk of its strength of comment was covered by the other discussion draft, but those points not referred to by Chris did not perhaps have strategic strength in that they could be challenged in intellectual or even practical argument.
George M had emailed comment offering generally positive comment on both ‘documents’ and suggested that John and Chris should work together to produce version of ?4 pages.
Chris can be said to have been disappointed not to have had enough critical comment from meeting or elsewhere but was pleased that Janos failed to understand the matter of the basis of legal challenge from electorate if parliamentary process was not true to mandate at time of election; this was in context of ‘demand’ for abolition of itemised election manifestoes. Chris responded by saying that his lightweight rapid write had not adequately informed of the ‘multiple mini referenda’ proposal for elections, and he would need to clarify this.
Agreed that John and Chris will move this forward on line as high priority. John mooted invitation to others to produce their own versions, but discussion identified some impracticalities.
? Length – short /? brief /?’adequate’ – part 1) identify problems, 2) solutions and 3) outline of Campaign Action Agenda; Initial defining sentence again approved unanimously.
Subsequent discussion emphasised high priority – needs to be ready and approved for GA
5/6) Progress on Main ACTION/Other Groups.
Chris was given time to inform of various attempts to canvass for potential support
Spoke to Ms. Snape of Unison – highly preoccupied with October action.
Save Our NHS – Unite – sympathetic and will contact those in better position to give Union response.
In email correspondence with Keep our NHS Public.
Mike says can do RMT.
?ULU ?tied up with RMT – but need independent link ??Obi + Sam already asked.
Have asked Peter C. for Environmental Contacts.
Jamie KF on board and has suggestions.
EWG – Janos informed – ?pamphleteering.
London Housing Action Groups – Chris has contacts and will continue to chase.
Lilias Faith Groups – seemed to take this on.
World Development Movement responsive and ?communicating with those it has registered.
No joy with contacting Diggers at Runnymede – have tried Simon again.
Spoken to Mel Re: Peace and anti-war.
Ben to talk with Reclaim the Power this W/E – also ?John
?Assembly against prosperity – no formal contact ??John
Solicitors/Barristers group – Mel.
Mark Barrett has offered to help – ?website
Leicester – Dan Ashman
?Unlock Democracy etc., etc., etc.
?Unions/peeps assemblies – John suggests seeking motions of support as a means of advertising….?approach Rdwg?
The discussion took a not untypical spiralling twisting and turning Occufling multiplicity of variably related diversionary discussion points. In keeping with his strong feelings on the matter of TTIP, Chris said that this should be given the chance that Obi has sought for it in the way of support for opposition from Occupy at GA, despite pessimism following the uncertain reception from ignorance at GA of 1st March. Encouraged that good determined information campaign and GA called anytime could well answer frustrated dilemma.
Action discussion came back in repetitive way to FIXING A DATE, despite agreement that this should be informed by feedback during an urgent committed process of networking with potentially interested groups. ??Could be Chartist anniversary date —- June ?15th. Concern expressed in relation to organisation of an event should there be large numbers in Parliament Sq. Chris did not understand this reservation and asked how we could be better informed in respect of concern about restrictions of public address. Also about policing of whole event and who might be best placed to advise – Janie Mac suggested.
Links with Legal Activism in face of Legal Aid – ?their demonstration ??un-policed!! Mel also to talk to – Chris spoke to her just before meeting.
John says he is planning to visit Diggers – to explore feasibility and practicalities, including the Thames march time line. Chris says he has a very special feeling for the idea of presenting a Charter to Parliament, with the thought that this could be done on a Monday after a weekend of Activism.
John suggests that speakers could go out to other groups/assemblies to inform of our plans, but this, as all firm engagement, would depend on Fixing Date. John asks if, when communicating with others, it would be appropriate to speak of the Campaign as ‘Action for Democracy’, and this was accepted as fully appropriate.
As to general feelings about a specific date, whereas this was originally strongly focussed on October, this meeting appeared to acquiesce with flexibility. There was limited discussion around the idea of Chartists and an Occupy Charter, with generally positive energy, but thoughts of a theme related to the Magna Carta did not seem appropriate, other than in a symbolic march from Runnymede.
7) Networking John and Chris – to keep mutually informed.
Advertising – hugely important
Pamphleteering ?Peter D + Tom M. John emphasises Graphics and will speak to?
Banners – ?Ella, ??Nafeesa
Funding – John repeatedly indicates anxiety about this. ?Try Unions if they come on board
8) Delegation to WGs and others – will be necessary after networking. See above.
9) Weekend planning meeting when we have takeoff – Frank Taylor has offered to organise. .Chris has also been volunteered for an overnight. No dissent noted to out of London venue.
10) Charter on agenda but vaguely discussed earlier. Various ideas, expansive or otherwise. Cross over conversation with Statement of DAWG. Idea about one year parliaments no longer championed. Other issues come up such as right of recall, in which context it is pointed out that ability of electorate to legally hold parliament as a whole accountable in respect of policies supported at election would be far more powerful.
Communications Obi – ? Twitter. DAWG Riseup list
Obi very keen that Chris should get space for meetings concession from Unison. Unite an option also.
John able to speak at GA, Chris having said that he thinks this might not be an option he can commit to.
11) Next Meet – Thurs 3rd April. 6.00 pm Friends. Coming week clashes with NHS meetings.
Minutes by Chris FD. 21ST March.