Should Occupy use Westminster? by Dave Dewhurst
Should Occupy use Westminster? by Dave Dewhurst (Economics WG)
On Jan 27th 2014 Occupy joined a platform at Westminster on the theme of ‘Economic Democracy’. Speakers up front were Peter Tatchell, Janet Williamson – Senior Policy Officer of the TUC, Prof Colin Crouch – who wrote ‘The Strange non-death of Neoliberalism’ and myself, Dave Dewhurst – sometime member of the Economics Working Group. The event was organised by Shout Out UK. Andria filmed the first hour.
Peter and Janet focused on basic practical steps to increase democracy in the workplace. (See Ali Saul’s article for Shout Out above.) Colin and myself talked broadly about economic exploitation undermining democracy. The rich are responsible for the crash by grabbing too much for themselves, justifying it with flaky economics and walking us towards increasing economic dictatorship.
Contributions from the floor were lively. While the room was booked by a Conservative MP, Bob Blackman, the first question was about whether there was any point in supporting Labour at the next election. The disproportionate impact of the recession on women was emphasised – made worse by their higher entry obstacles in commerce and politics.
The (ir)relevance of the cushioned committee rooms of Parliament to the situation of most people was vigorously challenged. The three Occupiers in the ‘audience’ voiced doubts about the value of the venue. Some people felt the environment was oppressive – but lightened a little by the Occupy banner on the podium. Still, people clapped moderately and the organisers felt it went very well.
I was embarrassed to have Bob Blackman agreeing with me that, ‘you can’t outsource democracy to a cross every five years.’ He repeated the quote, ‘If voting changed anything they’d abolish it,’ and urged more people to get involved in the arts of lobbying themselves. I cited Jamie and Anita’s Rax Active Citizen Toolkit which includes that and much, much more.
Appreciation for the guys at Shout Out UK who made it happen. Personally I’m fine with including a cautious engagement with Westminster at times, but there’s no way I can knock Occupiers who point to where it’s got the 99% lately and point to the wilful blindness, acquiescence, self-satisfaction and incompetence of most politicians in nurturing a finance system and an ideology that works to stunt 100% of us.
Andria livestreaming the first hour of the meeting.