Welcome to the Sustainable Democracy Movement!

Dear Visitor,

A warm welcome to the UK Sustainable Democracy Movement website! This public platform has been set up to work out how to make a better world after COVID-19 and (we hope) before our current trajectory takes us to runaway global heating.

We also want to lobby the UK Parliament on other issues of local, national and global concern, so we hope you take full advantage of the information placed on here, as well as contribute to it. We hope to raise awareness of issues that the orthodox press often do not, and be a true catalyst for change in British politics.

This platform could also be the launch pad for a brand new UK political party, but it's ideas we need first; ideas to help ensure Earth is a safe place, for all of us today... and for the many generations of humanity yet to come.

Our 'values' and 'aims' are simple;

We wish to see a United Kingdom that is:

- Democratic
- Co-operative
- Secular
- Climate & Environment Sustainable

Whatever ideas you may have, please send them in to us. We'll publish all serious letters. Meantime, if you haven't done so already, please sign up to our regular newsletter at the very bottom of this page!

Sincerely,

Mark Birkett,
Founder, The UK Sustainable Democracy Movement

Head Office: 3, No. 1 Court, Rochdale, Lancs. OL16 5AJ
Tel: +44 (0)1706 345648
Email: info@sustainabledemocracy.uk

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What Might a post COVID-19, post-Capitalist, post-Religious World Look Like?

The COVID-19 pandemic has been, and will likely continue to be for many months, humanity's very last wake-up call. It has shown us the fragility of our world and everything within it. Hundreds of thousands, if not millions, will die before the virus is brought under control. But murderous as it is, it is as nothing compared to the added danger of runaway global heating, still hiding in plain sight ready to make Earth altogether uninhabitable. So, friends, there is no more time to waste. Our species has to change its behaviour. Permanently. Starting now.

We all hope that a vaccine will be found and distributed across the Earth as soon as possible. But let us not fall into the trap of leaving the post-COVID world to the rich and/or the current political class. Why? Because they have all totally failed humanity - and on a clearly epic scale. They simply cannot be trusted to save the world.

From Climate-Change-Denier-in-Chief Donald Trump to the ruthless Chinese dictator Xi Jinping, from the racist Viktor Orban to the Amazon-burning Jair Bolsonaro, from Poisoner-in-Chief Vladimir Putin to bushfire-non-apologist Scott Morrison, from the mafia gangster Rodrigo Duterte to the dangerously sectarian Narendra Modi (and politicians of every creed in-between) none of them have proved fit for office (most should be locked up for crimes against both humanity and our environment).

But it is also clear that our political system in the UK isn't fit for purpose either. Entertaining buffoon as he may be (to some), Boris Johnson is a proven liar, a hypocrite and a charlatan. Little he says can be taken at face value. And he is running (from his bed?) one of the least talented governments in living memory. Though Matt Hancock usually has the decency to answer straight questions with reasonably straight answers, Boris Johnson is certainly no Churchill * and Dominic Raab is no Douglas Hurd. Where are the political colossi we so desperately need?

(* to be fair, Kier Starmer is no Clement Attlee either; neither was Corbyn ).

Moreover, Johnson's childish and political buffoon's response to COVID-19 in January and February 2020 left the UK out of lockdown for at least a month longer than it should have been, resulting in thousands of unnecessary deaths now. There are no words to describe the horror of the so-called 'herd immunity' strategy the Tories first planned. For what did it mean? It meant a cull of the old and the vulnerable rather than interrupting the economy. That's why we need to see the back of our share of the world's rootless, amoral and self-serving political class too.

Meantime, with the COVID-19 lockdown across the country giving us at least a breathing space to think, we now have perhaps our very last chance to re-write our collective future. We may not be able to change the whole world, but we can start by changing Britain and then inspiring other countries to follow our lead.

To borrow a phrase, yes we really can.

Aims?

Firstly, we want a true democracy in this country; where everyone's voice is properly valued; where MPs have legal obligations to their constituents under the auspices of a 'Constituents Charter'; where a complaint about a political party or a given MP can be taken for independent adjudication; and where all political nepotism is brought to an end. And above all, where there is a clearly defined legal relationship between MP and Constituent such that both parties know what their rights are, where democratic representation is the justified reward for paying one's taxes, and where any matters of dispute can be settled by an Independent Ombudsman.

Secondly, we seek to replace the current and demonstrably unsustainable Capitalist economic model with a Co-operative economic model. We could argue the various pros and cons of 'federalist' versus 'individualist' models but at its simplest, we need business models that ensure that wealth created in any given enterprise is shared equally by all the people who created it. We're not seeking some totalitarian system, with orthodox 'entrepreneurial spirit' or 'bright ideas' crushed at birth in the name of lowest common denominator equality; far from it; and no-one is wearing that hair shirt here. We simply seek a just economic system where people are valued equally and rewarded equally with their due share of the fruits of the collective endeavour. We know that 'absolutes' in this economic scenario aren't realistic, but we also know that there is no point in endless individual wealth. To quote actor Jeff Goldblum, you can only have one lunch.

So we seek to persuade people that greed isn't good rather than force that conclusion upon them. There is no need for someone at the top of an organisation to be paid twenty, thirty or a hundred times more than those at the bottom. Nor does ever more personal wealth actually produce better results or even a happier individual. What's infinitely more rewarding for all concerned is a business, a community, a town, a city, a country and (ultimately) a world at peace with itself.

(Though many (perhaps understandably) object to Premier League footballers being singled out for criticism on income, there are some footballers earning £400,000 per week whilst the staff at the football ground they play at are barely above minimum wage. This is more money than any human being could possibly spend. So the top flight players do provide a stark example of the moral obscenity of unlimited pay packets).

Thirdly, as with the UK Secular Society, we want children's education to be rational and secular rather than irrational and faith-based. We want children to be taught how to think rather than what. And we all know how damaging mutually-mistrustful 'parallel' communities can be. The UK has absorbed a great deal of immigration in recent decades, and it is all welcome. But it does come at a potential cost if the new community fails to integrate with the old. And most of the trouble starts with religious superstition. If one group of children are taught that their improbable God is 'The Only God', it causes nothing but trouble with those who have another equally improbable God, or no God whatsoever. We have major problems with societal cohesion in the UK, yet much of it starts within UK faith schools (many of them taxpayer funded).

This all needs to stop. By all means adults can choose to worship how they please, but children must be left completely free of all supernatural teachings. Why? Because no matter how well intentioned the imam, the priest, the rabbi, or the guru, teaching that one creed of people have 'The One True God or Faith' to the exclusion of all others stands directly in the way of social cohesion.

If we slowly but surely encouraged children to think for themselves about such issues, and come to conclusions once they are old enough to understand critical thinking on spiritual matters, wider society would see the benefits within two or three generations. Individuals would be free to explore their own thinking rather than relying on centuries-old religious dogma forced into them from birth. And since a good many religions seem to think it acceptable to treat women as less important than men, we'd be freeing future generations of female adults from the wholesale gender inequalities (and even abuse) inherent in all the major religions too. Feminism matters in our modern society. Yet there is no such thing as feminism in any of the main religions' texts, teachings or interpretations.

Fourthly, and (most importantly of all) we seek our current and unsustainable 'consumer-growth' economic model is changed to a co-operative, climate-sustainable, one. More detail on that in a moment.

Is this a political party?

Not yet. But with enough support, this movement may become one, and with councillor and MP candidates across the country. For now, where appropriate, we want to harness 'People Power' to have matters raised in Parliament via our lobbying efforts and, in the medium to longer term, to make room for a new political paradigm altogether to take flight. And for that, we need your constant vigilance, energy and ongoing support.

How do I judge whether I belong in this 'movement'?

If you believe in the values we've laid out above, are prepared to truly step 'out of the box' with whatever thinking you might have now, and be prepared to listen to and contribute great ideas yourself, then whatever political party you currently support you should have a natural home here. Whatever your field of expertise, you can add your voice to ours to ensure political change really does happen.

What 'change' is needed?

Firstly, we need to extricate ourselves from this COVID-19 nightmare and any similar 'flu' type mutations.

In the short term, we're likely to see lock down restrictions lifted in certain geo-locations, or across certain demographics, or even at certain times and not others, depending on balancing the health risks with the risks of zero economic output. But whilst testings kits and contact tracing is essential in that effort, we need to be exceedingly wary of allowing state-wide monitoring of our behaviour and movements with mobile-device applications. Apart from anything else, we have virtually no democratic scrutiny of any government activity just now.

And notwithstanding what looks for the time being welcome largesse by the Tory Party (in the form of furloughs and corporate bailouts), the fact is, governments don't have any money. All they have are printing presses for our money borrowed from future generations. So unless we're very careful, COVID-19 will simply mean the rich enjoying 'socialist' bailouts from their Tory Party friends whilst the rest of us will be faced with at least another decade (if not two) of Capitalist 'austerity'. (Richard Branson's Virgin Atlantic Airlines being an excellent example of what's already happening as of April 2020).

We simply cannot let that happen again.

The bottom line with COVID-19 is that we need a vaccine; everything else is (at best) sticking plaster. But whilst we are waiting for it, we need to use the lock down time constructively. We need to re-think, re-plan and then re-build our shattered world. If we fail to do this now, with everything on the table up for renewed discussion, then make no mistake; the rich and the politically corrupt will fill the vacuum yet again.

And unless we demand wholesale nationalisations of such enterprises, or major shares in exchange for bailout packages, many already-wealthy shareholders will end up yet again benefiting entirely at the expense of ordinary taxpayers (the latter shouldering a future of crippling personal debt). And broken social care structures across the UK will continue to be eviscerated because all the government handouts have merely lined the pockets of the rich. Again. In fact, this could all-too-easily be a carbon-copy repeat of the post-2008 crisis which ended up costing us all £850 billion (that alone cost every man, woman and child in the UK £12,686 ).

Secondly, as it stands now, our Parliamentary system is entirely unfit for purpose. Never in UK history have so many felt so disenchanted with local and national politicians. According to ISPOS, UK politicians in general were considered as 'untrustworthy' by around 83% of the population. Is it any wonder? With the 2010 MP's expenses scandal, and many other abuses in the Westminster bubble besides, which honest and well-meaning people wouldn't be forgiven for hesitating to become an MP these days? Unlike many newer democracies, there is no written constitution in the UK. Your perceived rights as a citizen are not guaranteed by any written laws. All we have is 'legal precedent' based on a given judge's view, of a given dispute in a court, on a given day. It's simply not good enough.

Our entire political system is based on 19th-century practices and processes, along with ancient ceremonies no-one even remotely understands the point of, and absurdly-opaque and secretive political groupings (such as the Privy Council) that have no place whatsoever in the modern age. There is nothing remotely 'quaint' or 'honourable' about it all. The 2010 MP's expenses scandal was but one example, with bullying, nepotism, cronyism and sexual harassment within its very walls rife to boot.

And its London-centric thinking is demonstrably unsustainable too. We need to have Parliament moved outside the capital to break the incestuous relationships that often form between it and all the press barons and corporate lobbyists. Parliament's total acquiescence in the face of excessive corporate boardroom pay awards remains an ongoing insult to all of us, and the same goes for its attitude to 'banker bonuses' that still get paid out every year (banker bonuses were even paid out just before the COVID-19 crisis hit the headlines, so that no bankers were left short).

We need to turn the Houses of Parliament into a permanent museum, and work to create a new building for our politicians to work in, ideally outside the capital, with thoroughly revised Parliamentary procedures, processes and direct accountability fit for the 21st century. The £3.5 billion repairs to the Houses of Parliament are our ideal opportunity to achieve this; metaphorically and literally.

Thirdly, wealth is distributed ever more unevenly in this country. Every year the rich have been getting richer and the poor poorer. Since 1978 the gap between the richest and poorest in this country has been growing consistently ever wider. Even those in full-time work are often still skirting just above poverty levels. According to the Equality Trust, the UK is the fourth most unequal country in Europe when it comes to wealth.

Worse still, the 'Post-War Consensus' between (organised / unionised) Labour and Capital - which kept wealth inequality at bay (and indeed oversaw some of the greatest advances in social care, health, social mobility, and industrial success stories in British history) - was deliberately smashed up by the Thatcher government in the 1980's. This act of socio-economic vandalism resulted in a society today with no bulwark against pay abuses by unscrupulous employers, no protections against insecure employment in the form of zero-hour contracts, almost no worker representation in most industries, and widespread health and safety issues unaddressed to boot. Thatcher's vandalism still casts a long shadow.

(Never forget, Brexit was a perfect example of what happens when consensus between Labour and Capital goes awry. In the final analysis, Brexit wasn't a complaint about 'foreigners'; nor was it a complaint about 'sovereignty'; it was a complaint about one thing; wealth and opportunity inequality).

And all these problems are tearing at the very fabric of society itself

Time is running out

The recent IPCC report on climate warming couldn't possibly be more stark; humanity has just ten years to make the changes we need. If we haven't halted and started to reverse Co2 emissions by 2030, the Earth will slide into a two-degree temperature rise that will destroy everything we understand and take for granted in modern society. Seas will rise. Millions of people will be displaced from their homes. Cities all over the UK and elsewhere will drown. Crops will fail here and across the globe. Millions will be left without adequate food. Millions more will then seek to emigrate to cooler climes to try to survive here.

Covid-19 is indeed an immediate and very real threat to millions of human beings. But runaway climate heating has the capacity to wipe out all life on Earth. Forever. That is why we must seize this opportunity to stop our bad behaviour, and start working on how to save ourselves and the planet from demise.

Token gestures simply will not work, we need multi-faceted solutions

There is no 'easy fix' for these problems, there is no single technology that will save us, and there is certainly no 'machine' that could ever possibly suck all the Co2 from our atmosphere. What we need to do is:

- Stop creating all the Co2 in the first place. That means a total end to fossil-fuel extraction
- An urgent transition from fossil fuel, fracking and gas extraction to biomass, wind and solar power
- Then we need the biggest tree-planting exercise in all history to have trees soak up some of the Co2
- Then we need to radically change our addiction to consumer products
- And we need to think about (perhaps) the biggest taboo of all, procreation

Let's think about these in turn;

We don't need private cars. At all. What we do need is public transport powered from carbon-neutral sources. No-one in London needs cars because they all use the Tube. So every town and city in the country needs exactly the same reliable and regular public transport facility. As soon as we decide to do this, for the technology is already there, we can stop relying on Russia for gas, Poland for coal or Saudi Arabia for oil.

Just 13% of the UK is forested. We need to increase that percentage markedly. We need to stop eating beef and pork because these animals require unsustainable amounts of fresh water as well as producing all the methane gases that contribute so much to global warming.

We don't need new iPhones every year. We don't need new motor vehicles every three. Nor do we need cruise trips around Antarctica. Still less do we want or need 'space tourism for billionaires' a la Richard Branson. In fact, if you take a look around your own home right now, you'll probably see that most of what you already have is more than good enough for years to come. And your life will not end if you restrict your air travel way below where it is now (as COVID-19 is demonstrating very clearly). And as any landfill site will demonstrate, our waste and failure to recycle is beyond parody. Let's just stop all of that unnecessary consumption.

And perhaps most challenging, we all need to think carefully about our 'need' to have ever more children. The Earth cannot - cannot - support another ten United States' worth of people by 2050. Yet that is exactly where we're heading at current birth rates. Unless we deal with these challenges together, and do so now, we will see chaos beyond any storyteller's most fevered imagination. We need to have a great deal of thought about this. It won't be easy for sure, but getting procreation right is absolutely key to our survival.

How should we live?

This is the existential question facing us all. And we cannot put if off a moment longer. Floods everywhere in the UK are telling us this. So are a billion burned-to-death animals across Australia. So is COVID-19 with our unsanitary farming and food distribution habits.

(NOTE: Even the South China Morning Post recognises that the medieval-standards of hygiene in many 'wet markets' must be brought to an end, but China is by no means the only culprit there).

We all need to learn how to live within our means from today onward. We must all - individually and collectively - come to terms with changing our consumer habits for good. Not just token measures, but an entirely new way of life altogether. We must all;

- Learn to use far less fuel
- Insulate our homes
- Conserve our heating and lighting
- Recycle everything we possibly can
- Stop driving vehicles
- Stop taking so many foreign holidays in aircraft
- Replace all of our cars with carbon-neutral public transport
- Change our diet from mainly beef and pork (Co2 damaging and wasteful of water), to mainly poultry and vegetarian foods (which are much less so)
- Stop making so many babies

Get Involved!

If we don't take control of what happens to the world after COVID-19, then the rich and the politically corrupt will. Please, let's not fall for it again.

Meantime, no matter how nervous COVID-19 is making you, hold your nerve.

Let's use this 'lock down' time to figure out how to make the world safe - for all the generations of humanity to come.

Let's fix it all. Now. Together.

Please write to us with your ideas and suggestions via info@sustainabledemocracy.uk

Sincerely,

Mark Birkett,
Founder, The UK Sustainable Democracy Movement

Email: info@sustainabledemocracy.uk

Mark Birkett, Founder, The UK Sustainable Democracy Movement

 

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