Wednesday, 1 April 2009

G20: My message to the alternative summit

John McDonnell MP

Bankers banking their bonuses, MPs fiddling their expenses, ex-ministers lining their pockets with consultancies, and the prime minister in denial about his role in creating this cesspit of greed and corruption. For most of us, what else is there to do but get out on the streets to protest and resist?

Political representation isn't working.

Democracy within the political party that was founded to transform our society has been largely closed down. Political representation within it for an alternative vision of the world has increasingly been squeezed out by internal constitutional manoeuvres and manipulated selection processes, which have now even moved on to parachuting the progeny of the New Labour hierarchy into safe seats.

Within parliament, patronage has reduced the commons chamber to a rubberstamping ritual of obsequiousness, where virtually a two-day week has evolved and where vast swathes of new laws are forced through on a guillotine without even a debate.

No10 and the government departments are populated with advisers either coming from, or going to, lucrative posts in big business. The decision over Heathrow expansion exemplifies the style of policy-making that starts with capitulation to a powerful self-interested lobby, blatantly fixes a public consultation and then drives through a policy that destroys any vestiges of green credentials the government had left.

Hardly surprising, then, that people are taking to the streets and direct action. Climate campers camping, sacked workers occupying, Heathrow villagers at vigils and peace promoters marching.

Do the so-called world leaders sitting at the summit table realise the depth of anger that is brewing up in communities across the world? Maybe, but it seems not yet as they limit their horizon to minimal reform to salvage a system that has brutalised our society and plundered our planet for profit.

Between most of them they have turned the world economy into a casino, while, for most of us, to quote Morales, "We're not willing to play anymore." The solutions required to this latest crisis of capitalism have gone beyond fiscal stimuli, bank bailouts and quantitative easing. Stabilising a system so that the next generation experiences another similar crisis in 20 years, as time continues to run out for the planet, is increasingly exposed as pointless.

Spinning a summit communiqué to create an image of co-ordinated decision-making for the home country electorate just won't wash as firms close, unemployment mounts and poverty grows across the globe. The principles underlying the signs of real change that are needed to come from this summit are hardly new:

• Democratic rights at the core of every institution and every decision
• Labour rights firmly established and enforced by organisation and mobilisation
• Equality established practically by the redistribution of wealth and power founded upon common ownership, global tax justice and fair trade
• Survival ensured by a real sense of urgency in tackling climate change by concerted and decisive global action
• Peace secured by commitment to conflict prevention and resolution underpinned by disarmament and the end of the arms trade

If the summit could only make a start in setting this agenda there might be some hope. If it doesn't, the need for mass protest and direct action will prove to be not just justified but necessary.

This article originally appeared on Comment is Free

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