Cooperating around alternatives to a cuts-based economic strategy

This short film by Oonagh Cousins highlights, in accessible terms, what 'the alternative' to the current recessionary government trajectory looks like - and introduces some of the key players - including political economist Ann Pettifor (who is involved in the 'Green New Deal' group, and writes for Ekklesia among others), UK Uncut, the Robin Hood Tax Campaign initiative, False Economy, and others.

It Cuts Both Ways...The Alternatives from Oonagh Cousins on Vimeo.

Cooperation among both experts and motivators and changers in civil society, across a number of parties and sectors, is needed to develop alternatives and turn them into a shape which can be understood and adopted at a popular political level.

That is why it is so sad and misguided (and I write this as someone who is not a member of any political party, note) that Green MP and leader in England Wales, Caroline Lucas, was excluded from the platform of the 'March for the Alternative' rally in London recently by the Trades Union Congress (TUC) organisers. She is one of the few elected politicians who is willing to spell out both the big picture, and the measures that are needed to fill it in.

Yet the traditional trade union preoccupation with cosying up to the Labour Party meant that only Ed Milliband was allowed to address the 400,000 demonstrators (from a huge variety of backgrounds) as a national party leader - and all he is offering at present is what, to many, looks like a watered-down version of what the Conservative/Liberal Democrat coalition is implementing.

Thankfully, the Labour-oriented thinktank Compass, which has done, and is doing, some creative thinking and action in this and other areas, has now opened up its membership beyond the Labour Party. That has led to protests, bad-tempered diatribes and resignations from some party 'loyalists' (what can sadly seem to those outside to be frightened 'tribalists').

But as a result of the opening up of Compass, and as part of the wide linking, cooperating and networking Ekklesia seeks to promote over practical beliefs and values issues, I've now signed on the dotted line.

Protest is important, but a whole wave of economic, political, media and 'real big society' (that is good, just and green society) action and reflection is needed. That means getting out of our potholes, talking and working together wherever possible - not based on some prior agreement about 'progressive' or some other ideology, but upon the specific contributions different groups and networks can make in a large conversation where the needs of people and planet come first in reshaping our lives together, interpersonally and corporately.

See also: 'It is the government which is in deficit (and cuts) denial' - http://www.ekklesia.co.uk/node/14424

'Cuts are about ideology, not the deficit' - http://www.ekklesia.co.uk/node/14407

Links: * Debtonation (Ann Pettifor) - http://www.debtonation.org/
* UK Uncut: http://www.ukuncut.org.uk/
* Robin Hood Tax campaign (of which Ekklesia is a member) - http://robinhoodtax.org/
* Common Wealth: Christians for economics and social justice - http://www.ekklesia.co.uk/CommonWealthStatement
* False Economy: why the cuts are the wrong cure - http://falseeconomy.org.uk/
* Tax Justice Network - http://www.taxjustice.net/cms/front_content.php?idcatart=2
* New Economics Foundation - http://www.neweconomics.org/
* Green New Deal - http://www.neweconomics.org/projects/green-new-deal
* Christian Council for Monetary Justice (CCMJ) - http://www.ccmj.org/
* Compass - http://www.compassonline.org.uk/

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(c) Simon Barrow is co-director of Ekklesia - which has four interlocking areas of concern: religion, spirituality, secularity and society; transformative theological thinking from within the dissenting Christian tradition; beliefs and values in wider society; and political / economic / social / cultural change.

Ekklesia's collation of reporting and comment on the 2011 budget can be found here: http://www.ekklesia.co.uk/Budget2011

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