About This Blog

The public should know all we can about the business of the decision makers that affect our lives, our wallets and our democracy. This is a record of my efforts to try and improve the levels of transparency and accountability within Sheffield City Council and others. To shine a light on how decisions are made and where the money goes. If I can also help others to find their own voice and influence along the way, then that is a bonus.

Sunday, 9 November 2014

Not my Sunday Sermon 2, by Nigel Slack

This may become a thing, a Sunday contemplation on the state of the world and our tendency towards 'self' over 'society'. I talked in my last Sunday piece about the attitude amongst so many people today, that if you are not a part of the economic machine, creating wealth for self or others, and the other is preferably somebody paying your wages, then our efforts are not considered worthy or even legitimate.

This is promulgated by government and media and, to some extent has become part of the narrative by all political parties. It seems they are incapable now of discussing their policies and plans except through the prism of getting the 'workshy' back to work. Economic growth has become the mantra of this neo-liberal religion, whether the world & society can sustain it or not. Dave DeGraw, US economist and author recently commented that there were only enough jobs in America for 50% of the working age population. This means the idea of full employment is a myth that politicians continue to peddle in order to make those who are unemployed or even underemployed (part time workers) appear to be part of the problem.

The real trick for politicians and corporations however, has been their ability to convince many of the rest of society that this is the case. They appeal to our selfishness, our baser instincts to protect our selves and our loved ones from the 'outsider'. We are in an unprecedented period of inequality in this society, where wages for most are stagnant or falling and yet where corporate profits and the fortunes of the richest are continuing to boom. This is not only a problem for those in low paid jobs but for those, until now, relatively secure middle classes and graduates.

Dr John Goldthorpe, a co-author of the study and Oxford sociologist, said:
For the first time in a long time, we have got a generation coming through education and into the jobs market whose chances of social advancement are not better than their parents, they are worse. Guardian 6th November 2014 . Patrick Butler.

The much vaunted upward mobility of the 1980's is now a frightening 21st century downward mobility. As a result more and more of the sections of society that prided themselves on either 'working class solidarity' or 'middle class social responsibility' are falling into a self oriented protective stance. The result is the labelling of those that fall outside the norms of society as something 'other' and an acceptance of the disassembling of previously supported care structures (for the unemployed, the disabled and the working poor) as necessary, even though they were not the people that caused the crisis of 2008 but the victims of it.

The architects of the crash, bankers, politicians and corporations continue to profit from the crash almost without pause and the majority of the population are now so scared of their fragile employment and income security that they fall into line and hide behind the 'at least it's not me' selfishness that we all have, in some part, within our make up.

Personally, I will continue my efforts to be, at least partly, outside the system. The prospects for being able to be a full time conscience and watchdog for local politics and decision making is fading fast. Although I have connected with over 2,500 people through my funding campaign, only about 20 have responded with contributions towards my work. If all those I connected with had felt able to give the equivalent of a 'couple of pints and a bag of chips' then I would have busted my target. I continue to make my mark. This week a discussion on Twitter enabled me to make an SCC Cabinet member reconsider their positive stance on the Clegg/Osbourne plans for fake devolution to the Northern cities. This is the sort of thing no-one else is currently doing.

So people, if you were thinking that someone else would contribute, and therefore you weren't really needed, I'm afraid you were wrong, you are all needed. The withdrawal into self and selfishness that all of us are capable of seems just as prevalent in 'social benefit fundraising' as anywhere else. Without your support this campaign will not succeed and what murky decisions will slip by in the half light that remains? Will the few people able to make appearances at Council meetings be able to maintain the pressure? The visits to meetings in Rotherham, Barnsley and even further afield, that are now part of the City Region landscape, will not happen. If we end up with a City Region Mayor, where will they be based and who will be able to hold them to account?

If we want good governance, we cannot rely on the politicians to provide it alone. We must invest, either our time, something which few people can afford, or money, to support someone who has the time and the skills needed. You have a choice, I hope you will choose to support independent scrutiny for the decision making in the city and region. Visit my campaign page and support my work. If you don't, who will?

No comments:

Post a Comment