When we rebuilt Britain after the second world war people returning to and in neighbourhoods considered themselves heroes and heroines who had done their bit for a return home to freedom, a share of security, prosperity and representation they saw in and through the vote.
They had sacrificed, they had fought, they had experienced the world and it was a big, beautiful place where racism, harm and war was its darkest heart. Men and women felt they’d fought for and sacrificed so many lives for the right to a world where their vote mattered: peace, prosperity, social services and equality of opportunity.
Instead of developing an inclusive economy from the neighbourhood up so that diversity met privilege on a more equal basis, sharing responsibilities, decisions, intelligence and insight, our establishment saw the wonderful flowering of working class and diverse expression as an illness, a disease.
The real dis-ease though was how a privileged elite believed it was acceptable to continue to run the country after two harrowing wars as if it was a company set up to privilege themselves and people like themselves and to only see the rest of the country as something they had to buy off and make concessions to rather than engage with and take seriously.
Our establishment misunderstood the moment and what it asked of them. It asked them to move on from feudal, slaveholding ideas of what the world was and who it was for: it asked them to change and reflect the culture, lives, histories of everyone and to see institutions evolving because they responded.
At a time when we needed to move into a diverse, neighbourhood economy that allowed ingenuity, innovation to come from all walks of life and meet in a new, fertile, middle ground, we returned in our new factories, housing, education, utilities, police and health services to the military size, structure and intelligent insight models of the pre war colonial period with new forms of social and economic intelligence gathering that worked against economic and social solidarity and diversity. Social exclusion was in the DNA of this way of seeing and delivering reconstruction and construction.
Access to work, business opportunities promotion and advancement as well as culture, education and government was gate-keepered, media and film carefully constructed to reflect only the angry young white working class man rather than the real UK society that really wanted their vote to work and matter.
The achievements of the working class, women and people of colour were discredited.
The harm done to working class and diverse communities by these old fashioned ways of seeing history, civilisation then and now was because the establishment really believed that democracy couldn’t work.
We (the people) do and did believe it had worked, could work, could evolve. Our problem has been that the people who work in government and parliament are tasked with overcoming the long shadows of unbelief in the establishment classes who’ve circled the doors of democracy with all kinds of dark arts and dissembling since its establishment.
Really though, the institutions belong to noone and everyone: a spiritual thing and we’re all the messengers.
Next week in Parliament Week we have an opportunity to make the environment that our constituency MPs and we need to see, feel and believe in. November 14th to 21st means get to listen to Parliament TV, go onto the UK Parliament website, look up and be inspired by the Youth Parliament, talk to your parish councillors, your ward councillors, your county councillors, your MP (Nottingham, Rushcliffe, Nottinghamshire East Midlands When you have a project, idea, or campaign remember the structure around you, the people in your ward, your neighbourhood, your village, town or city who have knowledge, experience, insight and can help you.
Connect with them, have a conversation, have fun, enjoy change.
Remembrance Sunday then Parliament Week means we can talk about the complex history of the becalmed neighbourhoods we’re living in, neighbourhoods that need the restoration of the hope, purpose and direction through jobs, training, skills, cultural activity in the neighbourhood that reflects the locked down/locked out enthusiasm, energy, talent and aspirations there.
If we can reintroduce the idea of the life in the neighbourhood as a creative energy as well as a consumer energy then we’ll reintroduce a layer of missing representation and modernise, creating a warmer, smaller, more responsive democratic system that acknowledges and represents the UK neighbourhoods that are a really powerful force for change., We need to remember that just because we were wrong after the first and second world war that we can’t be right now and do the right thing: build in a small is beautiful layer of representation and expect a reciprocal response in our parliamentary system.
After the second world war MPs made a decision not to follow their consciences as humans but to follow their socialised, gender, ethnicity and class based socialised vision of the way things are. They closed their eyes and held their noses against creating a representative, fertile ground in the neighbourhood that would promote self determination, diversity and equality, turning their backs on the opportunity to listen, support and respond to working class and diverse communities.
They set a pattern of wilful ignorance of difference, a failure to create a modern, bright inspiring environment to work in and walk through that acknowledges every parish, ward, neighbourhood of the UK through art, design, news.
When you see Jacob Rees Mogg lolling on the green leather benches you think this isn’t the parliament that we need in the 21st century, we need something and people who are interested, engaged, in aesthetics that aren’t innate to their class or ethnicity: people who have the capacity to absorb things beyond their own immediate, class and networks.
People who are really interesting, focussed on public good, public service and helping us all work out what the good life is and can be. We need a human/humane parliament that isn’t about feudal history, it’s about evolving civilisation and an understanding of civilisation that grips the connection between granular as well meta data, that grasps the issues as much here in the local as in the regional, the national, the international.
It’s not about supply chains of financial services and data harvesting profit managed by a privileged elite who think it’s fine to bring outdated rituals and traditions out while utilising tech platfora to gamble with our lives: we need the past but we need the past to recognise the present and the future that’s accountable to our shared future so we can engage with de globalisation and tech in a way that is human and humane.
At the moment we have an environment of parliament that can’t build anything really it’s there to run fast and break things and has created an extreme toxic, competitive, bullying, unhealthy, suicidal and self harm culture that needs to change. We can’t let 16 year olds vote while Ex Education Ministers are so possessed by survival that they make horrible threats to civil servants and colleagues.
That is madness.
We need to remember who and what parliament is for and get a sense of vocation, authenticity and purpose into every part of life today for everyone who lives in every neighbourhood. Parliament and government is very very sick on greed, competition, military landlordism and securitisation: it needs culture, it needs to realise that it’s broken and needs new organisation and to find a new aesthetic.
Parliament needs US and that doesn’t mean more americanisation: it needs localisation.
In the post war reconstruction period that we’re now living out it was very important to hold onto massive, profit orientated supply chains and with it the language and culture of slaveholding: ‘whips’ ‘chains’ all the distracting bells and whistles, table banging of medieval power and control in the Commons: we see that for the end of era madness it always was. Let’s speak people, kindness, generosity, collaboration, insight, creativity and innovation with everyone, everywhere. Let’s turn this culture around.
In and after Parliament Week November 14th-21st let’s move forward with people into representative, participative democracy where we’re all equal and can all participate.