Why Parliament Is Exciting Right Now: We’re Arguing For A Better Scale For Social Justice…People Share Your Resources And Knowledge….

Featured Image: Justice For All By John Vanek

Trauma (PTSD) has been described as having a unique voice: we now use technology to understand the way the pain of experiences changes the way we behave and express ourselves.

Our very voices express that feeling. Expression and resolution of trauma and grief are vital to individuals and to the wider society: witness the 300 million pound military rehab centre at Stanford which is also developing state of the arts facilities with another 70 million pounds for civilian trauma rehabilitation.

These medical research facilities are about a humane shared knowledge, that is there for everyone.

Some of the rehabilitation technologies could be used to ensure the continued safety and mobility of older people, for example, see the World Health Organisation Report into Rehabilitation in the 21st Century: https://www.who.int/disabilities/care/Rehab2030MeetingReport_plain_text_version.pdf

In a civilising society we also have a fundamental need to share competence, explicit and implicit knowledges and power: the fact that we can rehabilitate veterans and then find that those veterans want and need to share their knowledge and insights with the rest of society is a good beginning to a more humane distributive notion of war,  welfare and peace.

This need for a human connection and relation in the scale and accessibility of these new medical institutions and the moral and ethical mountains that they want to climb should also be reflected in our workplaces and in our  UK parliaments because solving problems is good for us.

Everything  that ever happens to us, happens in a living relationship. Our parliaments: English, Welsh, Scottish (what about the Northern Irish?) the-uks-changing-democracy. are not as relational as they need to be, they’re not working to the kind of scale in things that their constituents need just now. Everyone who lives in a constituency would vote if they had a relationship with the process of governance that had meaning, was on a scale they could relate to.

Trauma, too, can just the same be invisibilised, reinforced, as well as re informed, re-placed, resolved, hidden inside bureaucracy, displaced out of normal time, so that a passing reference to trauma can trigger a painful emotion. Think of Jeremy Kyle and Grenfell, carbon emission falsification in car manufacture, the contaminated blood products scandal, consider Hillsborough, Windrush. When pain and suffering can’t find empathy or acknowledgment it becomes traumatic…

We’re all regularly scarred when things go so wrong for others: we all feel the pain and need resolution.

When you think about all the things that you wanted to see changed when you popped your ballot into the box recently (and when you do the same thing in the european elections), there were bigger, underlying questions that no-one had the time to ask but felt: fear of wars, terrorism, cyber and economic instabilities, a questioning of unnecessary risk and exploitation in work and supply chains surrounding food, medicine, imports and exports: how we relate to the rest of the world.

What we can see is that in all our making, doing and providing we want to be ethical, want the mass scale of things (whether its manufacture or social media) to be broken down into manageable and creative parts because if the way we do things is wrong then what we make is irrelevant.

We’re all asking questions about how people work in manufacture, construction, education, housing, in caring, in education, health and environment and really we want parliament to help us break it all down into entities that we can deal with: we’ve forgotten that we all matter.

When the Queen approved John Bercow as speaker in 2017 she was also signalling an appeal to MPs privileges: freedom of speech, freedom from arrest and freedom of access to Her Majesty for all MPs What she also needed to assert is the vocation and purpose of parliament, not just for the lobby, the Early Day Motion, the Career of the politician but for the good of people, of humanity.

That we all believe in the highest standards of public life and aspirations of public service is currently really at odds with the marketisation and segmentation of people that we all experience, (even MPs) in society now: it is not possible to share or transmit knowledge outside your social group effectively and that is creating a misinformation that is harming us: creating a stunted representation of ideas and people.

With Brexit in spite of the moans and groans, disaffections, disavowals, deselections and new parties, more MPs are turning up and communicating with each other: after forty years of running down the notion of the welfare state and the common good, running the country as a company and developing rentier, gig and gang labour forms of employment and housing, Britain is in need of rejuvenation, rehabilitation and trauma therapy. A revolutionary conversation club where people from all walks of life, from different parts of society start to remake our sense of shared history that we jettisoned back in 1979.

The dynamic that neither conservative or labour realised is that our culture, the way we work, treat each other, care for each other, heal each other, address social issues is about living in one country that has more than a feudal belonging and history. Britain is and has always been a dynamic struggle where we need parliament to reach more people, more of the time. Political parties need to reflect the country and the structure of the parties needs to change as much as the culture of parliament.

Since the referendum on Brexit, since the decisions on the reconstruction of the houses of parliament, there has been the sense that although austerity is over the spending decisions are still austerity led. This is ironic since more MPs  (except for the Climate Change debate on the 1st March when only 40 MPs turned up) are now debating in parliament and turning up to debate than at any other time in the last forty years.

The decisions that are made though, are not solving the problems of the gig and gang labour economy, the feudal approach to labour that underlies the rentier economy and its impact on social division, cohesion, organised criminality and under resourced and increasingly socially segregated educational provision.

Although MPs in our parliament are full of soulful and impassioned debate, the same ideological channelling of public services staffing and resources money into technology based solutions that haven’t got the infrastructural support and insights continues (the idea of ‘austerity’ meant taking 2.6 billion pounds from funding police staffing in London and 3 billion pounds going to a new emergency service software that may not be ready when the existing contract expires). 

We must make technologies smaller scale, more locally responsive and accountable and invest in training and education for everyone at every age. We need to feel that it makes sense but not just to the same group of people: to everyone.