7 ways to change British politics for the better in 2020

Don't despair - organise.

There’s been a lot of understandable despair on the left since the election result. But there have also been more positive reports: a surge in interest in organisations campaigning on the ground, to protect from the worst of the damage yet to come. So what can we do in 2020 to change things for the better?

Here’s seven ideas for how we can move out of our echo chambers and into communities across the UK this year. It is non-exhaustive – pick and choose, and add what’s best for you. The crucial thing is that we act: to create hope, change the debate, and make an impact however we can.

1. Support Extinction Rebellion. For all the criticisms about tactics and organisational structure, they did more than anyone or any organisation to put climate change on the agenda last year – both in the UK and globally. The rest is noise.

2. Get involved in a party. If you’re not in one already (and particularly if you live in England), now is a crucial time to get involved in Labour. This government can only be stopped through progressive parties winning. Who wins the Labour leadership contest will have nation-changing ramifications (the deadline to join is Jan 20th), and there are elections coming up for councils and mayoralties across the country this year. Help shape the resistance to hard right dogma and the attacks on our social fabric that are yet to come.

3. Back organisations working across the left. Compass are great, among others. They recognise the good in different parties and the need to work together. We’re pluralist or we’re doomed.

4. Live greener. As the climate crisis hits hard, we all have to work harder on reducing our environmental impact. Reducing meat consumption is one of the best ways of doing this. Not everyone will become a vegetarian or vegan – the big change will come from all of us cutting down on meat (particularly red meat), flying less, pressuring big companies, and switching to renewable energy. PS: You can support progressive media AND switch to 100% renewable energy through Ecotricity here. Each switcher funds half a day or journalists’ time.

5. Build our own media. We can say ‘the media cost the left the election’ all we want, but it’s meaningless unless we try and change that, try and build a fair debate. The only guaranteed way of doing that is supporting hard-hitting, progressive journalism. Left Foot Forward are on the up and only exist thanks to reader support. But I have to be honest: it’s a really tough funding environment. Become a Supporter to fight for a better media – and consider backing other great radical media organisations like openDemocracy, Red Pepper, Tribune, The Conversation or whoever you think shines a light on the right.

6. We have to tackle the democratic crisis. Westminster isn’t working, and Westminster’s broken voting system meant a little-over 1% rise in support for the Tories handed them a landslide. Millions more were forced to vote ‘tactically’ and hold their nose, while parties stood aside in hundreds of seats – depriving voters of choice. Groups like the Electoral Reform Society (who I work with), Unlock Democracy and Make Votes Matter are pushing for the real reform we need. There are big attacks coming on our already-embattled democracy – from voter ID to flawed boundary changes and yet more cronyistic Lords appointments.

7. Get involved in grassroots campaigning – from trade unions, anti-racism organisations like HOPE Not Hate, to activist groups like ACORN, who fight for renters’ rights. We can build community power to protect from the worst impacts of Brexit and the ideological assaults on the welfare state.

There’s huge force in collective action. But this is also a moment for experimentation, discussion, and new ways of engaging in politics. See what works.

Let’s move out of our echo chambers and stand up for our communities across the UK. Don’t despair – organise. Happy new year!

Josiah Mortimer is Editor of Left Foot Forward. Follow him on Twitter.

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15 Responses to “7 ways to change British politics for the better in 2020”

  1. Julia Gibb

    Once again an article that ignores Scotland!
    At the recent GE Labour came in at fourth place with ONE seat in Scotland. A decade ago they had almost half the vote and over 50 seats.
    In 2015 (post referendum) The Smith Commission looked at increased devolved power for Scotland. Labour opposed almost every proposal.

    Labour don’t listen !

    The vote shift in the North of England will be ignored just as they ignored the vote shift in Scotland.
    English voters wanted Brexit. Scottish voters want to remain in the EU. The traditional two party system is London centric and everyone outside that bubble is sick of it.
    Stop pretending the Labour Party is the answer to every situation.

  2. Mary MacCallum Sullivan

    As the man said, ‘We’re pluralist or we’re doomed’! In Scotland we have the SNP, but we must work to ensure that there is collaboration between SNP and Labour (the largest ‘progressive’ political party in the uk) – the only way to re-frame the debate and address the climate and the social justice emergencies….. The SNP need both pressure and support also.

  3. John Probert

    Electoral reform (STV) is the key to a healthy democracy.
    Let’s prioritise it and act through Parliament to demand a public inquiry.

  4. David T

    Julia Gibb is absolutely right. This article should really be headed ‘7 ways to change English politics…’

    Politics in Scotland is already substantially different from Westminster. However, the Scottish electorate is completely disenfranchised under the UK system and in the MSM – including, seemingly, the likes of LFF.

    And I agree with Mary MacCallum Sullivan: progressive parties need to work together.

    Incidentally, Scottish Labour needs to acknowledge that a very substantial proportion of its membership backs IndyRef2.

  5. Alison Bancroft

    How’s about suggestions for people who to get more involved in their local communities? ACORN is certainly a good suggestion but day to day action which can be anything from organising litter picking, to offering help with gardening to those unable to maintain their own (ideally combined with growing veg) to helping out at animal sanctuaries and any other local voluntary groups which need help are also surely important?
    And if you spot something which needs doing in your area don’t wait for someone else to organise but try to be the catalyst.
    Also put (gentle) pressure on councils not already looking at solutions like the Preston model to do so – and keep pressure up on MPs whatever their party to do their bit to sort things out.

    And please remember that people on low and very low incomes can’t do most of what’s being suggested here – so have a thought to how you can help make their lives better too.

  6. Francis McGonigal

    4. Live greener. “the big change will come from all of us cutting down on meat (particularly red meat), flying less, pressuring big companies, and switching to renewable energy.”
    I would argue that curbing population growth is as important as any of these.

  7. gg poulloin

    Not sure about extinction rebellion, don’t think any elected government can or will do anything about the climate emergency other than talk, They could tax gas guzzlers off the road now for example..

  8. Alan Bond

    It was the tory media ‘wot’ one it – the lies worked or the tories would NOT have got into power on a 1% increase in their vote. As it is just 31% of the electorate voted tory and that is called ‘democracy’ – what a laugh the tories are having at our expense. Worse is to come as they gerrymander there way into permanent power just like Hitler in Germany in the 1930s. They will disenfranchise as many people as they can and alter constituency boundaries in their favour. These are dangeous time my friends and they can only get worse if we leave the protection of the EU. My own view is that the result of the election is unconstitutional as more people didn’t vote at all than voted for ANY of the parties involved.

  9. CharlievBrowne

    1 ‘Population Matters’ David Attenborough dir
    2 It would be a tragedy if the responsible extra-parliamentary left + right wasted their time fighting each other as the world approaches a ‘Perfect Storm’ involving global warming; reverse-colonisation/theocratic creeping conquest; over-population; over-production/consumption; freedom of capital to expand economies to the point of the destruction of the planet; speculative building of executive housing estates on Britain’s farmland needed to absorb greenhouse gasses + feed us etc
    3 Gilets Jaunes tend to be working-class extra parliamentary folks of a left+right, rather conservative persuasion
    4 The general realisation that Britain’s democratic institutions are not fit for purpose; and that the democratic initiative made available to the common person in Britain is equal to the decision-making available in one game of noughts-and-crosses every five years
    (A much-derided far-right party has launched a Change.org petition requesting the introduction of a Participatory Democracy element to our democratic processes – what on earth have they been reading?)
    Someone or other once said something to the effect that long-term quantitative changes would eventually produce a sudden qualitative change
    The long-term changes must have been commerce + the industrial revolution which has served many but not all of us well?
    The sudden qualitative change must be global warming?

  10. Michael McManus

    Good points except for the first, dare I say?
    XR is just an ultra fringe of the capitalist/bourgeois climate scam – called climate change only because the warming has failed to appear except locally in parts of the north.
    All (ALL) other predictions over the last 40 years have been wrong – Gulf Stream still there, no sea level rise of several feet, no 4c rise everywhere, no extinctions, no starvations, no permanent droughts, and despite the MSM alarmism no more fires or storms than normal (but far fewer deaths therefrom).
    Who benefits? landowners housing solar/wind farms. The steel, electronics and construction companies and the posh boys and girls filling chairs in the various government departments and ‘charities’.
    Who loses? The working class whose skills are deemed polluting whether mining coal or making cars. Even if they can afford electric cars (expensive battery life 5 years by the way) where do they plug them in – most of us don’t have driveways. How do the less affluent heat their homes – with electricity? already a multiple of the cost of gas.
    Weather forecasters are not physicist and cannot even tell you next weeks weather. Three times this winter heavy snow has been forecast – the last time for Xmas day. What happened to it. I could go on about cloud-cover equations and the scandal of the Stevenson boxes but my guess is I wouldn’t be understood.
    Two expts anyone can try at home:
    Check the forecast every day for a week (the written summary not the arm waving live obfuscation). 40% accuracy is typical – same models basically for 2050.
    Note the temp changes as you drive from home to shops – sometimes as much as 3c within a mile. yet we are told there’s been 0.3c rise in the last 100 years and that’s reliable and alarming.

  11. JenW

    Another good campaigning group to follow and help is http://www.weownit.org.uk
    It lists all the servicess that have been privatised, gives lots of links to helpful websites, and organises petitions, etc.

  12. Kumar sarkar

    Labour Party, General Elections and Imperialism..

    From the ongoing discussions on Labour’s abysmal performance in the last General Election, there appears to be NONE in the Labour Party who believes that Britain is still an imperialist country and has been a coloniser for about 400 years. At the doorsteps, it is quite expected that the party canvassers are confronted with the questions from white supremacists about the IRA, Hamas, ‘anti-Semitic’ Palestinians and Britain’s aggressive colonial wars. Of course, it was courageous for Jeremy Corbyn to assert that ‘in its whole history Britain has fought a just war only once – in 1939’!

    Labour Party is grandiosely advised to listen to the voters but never to tell them that there is no escape from immigration as they mainly come from the countries which were once colonised by Britain – chickens are coming home to roost

    The north of England was de-industrialised by both Conservative and Labour governments. The working class there is conditioned to believe that their misfortune has been caused by the immigrants from the ex-colonies as well as from the East Europeans. The latter in their turn were led to believe that they should get rid of their socialist regimes and imitate the people’s Paradise of Great Britain and West European countries, which they have responded to by invading the Paradise itself!

    Scottish people, as a whole, claim that they are a nation in their own rights and they have never accepted the union of 1707 with England, which was imposed upon them. And whenever the economic situation gets regionally worse, they become more nationalistic, abandoning what has historically been considered by them their class-party. The solution lies in re-organising Britain into a federation of England, Scotland and Wales. The Party is light years away from this understanding

    The Labour Party, not being in the habit of educating itself, let alone campaigning about the reactionary European Union that opposes nationalisation of industries and promotes austerity, confuses the spirit of internationalism with solidarity with the European Empire! The EU was started by Robert Schuman, a minister in Marshall Petain’s fascist regime after France’s defeat in 1940. In 1948, spymaster Allen Dulles, later head of the CIA, and spymaster William Donovan, head of its predecessor, the OSS, founded an American Committee on United Europe (ACUE), aiming at quick unification of the war-torn continent. Bringing French and German iron, coal and steel companies together would gain more profits while helping Germany to regain acceptance and strength for the Cold War. So they started a new group, the European Movement, with millions from the CIA and the Ford Foundation, and named five honorary presidents: Leon Blum of France, de Gasperi of Italy, Spaak of Belgium, an eager Konrad Adenauer from his new Federal Republic and, crowning it all, Winston Churchill, though voted out of office still full of ambition. The people of Greece and southern Europe know too well what the EU means to them.

    Jeremy is an exceptional democratic socialist, who has attempted to an incredible extent to extricate the Labour party out of its bourgeois upbringing. No wonder, he is conveniently the ‘Aunt Sally’ now to deal with the election disaster!

  13. Alice Aforethought

    “Don’t despair – organise.”
    No, despair. Until about 2033 I’d say. Waste of energy any sooner.

    “1. Support Extinction Rebellion.”
    No, don’t. They are Marxist wreckers. You want to be associated with them, ask yourself how supporting the miners’ strike went for Labour.

    “Who wins the Labour leadership contest will have nation-changing ramifications”
    No they won’t. Whoever wins will lose in 2024 and get replaced by another of those third rate doctrinaire stiffs of whom the Labour party is so full. Who is Labour leader will not matter for another 12 to 15 years.

    “5. Build our own media”
    Your own media will be stuffed with laughable hypocrites, Marxist psychos, freaks and luvvies above the line (Steve Coogan, Ash Sarkar, Eddie Izzard, Polly Toynbee) above the line and shrieking pillocks like Alan Bond below it. On its finest days it will be a savage tolerance-free leftist hatefest worse than Twitter. This will fail.

    “6. We have to tackle the democratic crisis.”
    The “crisis” you were just fine with when it handed Labour a 60-seat majority off 35% of the vote? The crisis you never thought needed fixing when it was helping Labour to win? That crisis? Pfffffft.

    “7. Get involved in grassroots campaigning – from trade unions, anti-racism organisations like HOPE Not Hate, to activist groups like ACORN,”
    These are all Marxist fronts with Orwellian names dedicated to advancing evil. You want to associate with those, the Tories will be delighted.

    “Let’s move out of our echo chambers”
    You tried that on 12/12 and when the real world told you what they thought of you you scolded the voters for being evil racists who’s got it wrong. So yes, move out of the leftist echo chamber, but you won’t like it.

    “Once again an article that ignores Scotland!” – Julia Gibb
    Fuck Scotland.

    @ Alan Bond
    Have you considered doubling the dose? Who do you think your angry / hatey man schtick is persuading, muppet?

    @ kumar sarkar
    “there appears to be NONE in the Labour Party who believes that Britain is still an imperialist country and has been a coloniser for about 400 years.”

    Loony, Labour-hates-Britain nonsense that exposes Labour as the Stalinist stooges they’ve always been. You really don’t get it at all. The majority of voters correctly see Britain as huge force for good in history and the modern world that is moderate, fair and good humoured with huge stuff we can be proud of. While you insist that Britain is in fact an evil hellhole you will persuade nobody and succeed only in looking like a vicious buffoon.

    “it was courageous for Jeremy Corbyn to assert that ‘in its whole history Britain has fought a just war only once – in 1939’!”
    In 1939 Jeremy Corbyn would have been rooting for the Nazis because they were then Soviet allies and the USSR shared his own class hatreds.

    “the union of 1707 with England, which was imposed upon them.”
    They were bankrupt and begged for it. Like the French since 1944, rescue someone and they’ll never forgive you.

    “Jeremy is an exceptional democratic socialist, who has attempted to an incredible extent to extricate the Labour party out of its bourgeois upbringing. No wonder, he is conveniently the ‘Aunt Sally’ now to deal with the election disaster!”
    He is a thick, vicious, wicked, anti-Semitic terrorist supporter who voted against the Good Friday Agreement and shagged Diane Abbott.

  14. Michaela

    The voice of the working class on the bushfires. Not the same as XR’s – but then they flew to the Alps for a skiing Christmas and have never listed anything bigger than a biro.

  15. Kumar sarkar

    Prof Elena Veduta, Head of the Department of Strategic Planning, Moscow State University. M.V. Lomonosova, Head of the AI ​​Economics section of the RAS, an eminent economist of international repute and authority on cybernetics, in a recent interview with a magazine (SP) talks about the European Union:
    ““SP”: – Why, in your opinion, in such a state as Great Britain, which was considered a model of bourgeois democracy and which had planted its democratic values ​​around the world, was it that they started talking about the bureaucratization of the European Union?

    – Probably, this is due to the realization that Prime Minister Heath pulled Britain into the European Union (EU) in 1973 without the will of the people. Heath’s pro-European stance caused considerable controversy within the party. I understand that the former prime minister agreed with the world financial oligarchs (MFIs) that the UK would become a member of the EU, whose task was, inter alia, to serve as a showcase of successful Western society for the “envy” of the peoples of Eastern Europe and the USSR.

    When the cold war ended, then Europe was not particularly needed by MFIs. What is the EU now? This is a union that does not develop the economy and subjugates the national consciousness of the countries of the bureaucracy of Brussels and the European Central Bank (ECB), which plays the role of an economic regulator.

    The ECB coordinates the monetary policy of the euro area and supports financial stabilization in the eurozone, but not in terms of improving people’s lives, but in meeting certain monetary criteria for budget deficits, debt of these countries and maintaining price stability in the eurozone (annual increase in the harmonized consumer price index in Euro zone should not exceed 2%).

    The bureaucratization of the EU is expressed in the rigidity of the criteria, which by all means must be observed, which have nothing to do with the growth of the public good for the peoples of the Eurozone. They force countries, such as Greece, for which the budget deficit has begun to grow, reduce social spending and, above all, pensions.

    Brussels officials and ECB bankers are quite happy with the chaos in which they feel like a fish in water. In such circumstances, they have many opportunities for lobbying the interests of the rich, which contributes to the propagation of corruption. For some reason, everyone in the world is talking about corruption in Russia, “not noticing the logs in their own eyes.” The dictatorship of the rich came to us from the West.

    In the situation with Brexit, European officials showed themselves in all its glory. After all, if the people of Britain voted to leave the EU, then this is a signal: something is wrong in the EU. And instead of critically assessing their course and respecting the will of the British, EU officials consider British voters to be populists and continue to cling to the UK with bureaucratic tricks, proving that it cannot easily leave the union without loss. It is shallow and unworthy.

    “SP”: – And how does this situation affect the development of production in the EU countries – after all, is production the core of their economy?

    – Under a policy of financial stabilization, production is doomed to degrade. I want to remind you that everything that is done in the West is controlled by purely monetary instruments. The euro exchange rate is maintained in a stable condition due to the contraction of the money supply in circulation, tax increases, reduction of social expenses, which reduces the investment opportunities of enterprises and the demand of citizens. With the decline in production, unemployment is growing, the growth of which is also facilitated by the EU migration policy.

    Europe prepared an unpleasant scenario: to accept refugees from Libya, Syria, Iraq, and other countries where wars started. Against the backdrop of rising unemployment, the indigenous people of Europe began to show nationalistic feelings, which resembles the scenario of the last century: the transition from financial stabilization of the 20s to the launch of inflation in the 30s, which led Europe, ultimately, to fascism. Thus, K. Lagarde , who recently became President of the ECB , has already stated that Germany has too much surplus and that it is necessary to give him the opportunity to work. But as? So, increase the money supply in the economy, and prices in Europe will begin to grow rapidly. To this can be added the growing nationalism in the EU with the expected consequences if true democracy does not reign in the EU.

    “SP”: – And who manages this process in Europe?

    – I believe that all politicians who came to power in Europe are, in fact, appointed by MFIs. I’m sure Merkel understands that Europe cannot be accepted as many emigrants, but for some reason it continues to do it stubbornly. What is the point? I think there is such a plan: Europeans are highly cultured people who are accustomed to the spirit of freedom, and their higher culture should be replaced by a lower culture, which MFIs will be easier to manage.

    “SP”: – We are approaching a very interesting topic. Today, the digital transformation of global governance is taking place. What is the forecast for our democratic future in this regard?

    – With the advent of MFIs to economic power at the beginning of the 20th century, there is no social progress, but there is a project to centralize world capital in their hands through global financial management. To overcome the global crisis, the MFI organized two world wars. Given the nuclear weapons, the MFI is afraid to unleash the third war, and therefore found another way – the digitalization of global financial management.

    Realizing that there will be many dissatisfied with a deteriorating life, the MFI is trying to solve these problems by promoting the development of information technologies, creating the so-called artificial intelligence (AI) for tracking people, recognizing people … It has come to the point that the goal of developing this AI is to manage people on the basis of DNA Those. the goal is the creation of AI not to increase the growth of people’s living standards (automated system of economic management), but to continue the course of personal enrichment, but already with the help of AI, which prevents possible mass disturbances from a deterioration in living standards and rising unemployment due to the introduction of robots.

    Today it is very difficult to restore the manageability of the economy! Created supercomputers, new information technologies that can be used to effectively manage the economy, but there is no economic knowledge to automate the management of the economy. MFIs and the bureaucracy have done everything to teach economic theories in universities that replace economic science. It has become convenient for bureaucracies to introduce digital technologies in the service sector in order to separate themselves from people through robots. Moreover, one can hear from officials that one cannot sue AI. And how is it possible to sue the AI ​​algorithms? Someone said that the robot, AI must have human rights. I marvel at the cynicism and illiteracy of such people.

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