T4cg maurice glasman transcribed speech 7sep13

Together for the Common Good Conference 6-8 September, 2013 Better Together? Where are we Now, what has changed?
After Dinner debate chaired by Rt Hon John Battle KSG with Lord Maurice Glasman and Phillip Blond NB. Apologies - audio breaks up in places: where speech is inaudible it is indicated by [….] Lord Glasman
Thanks Phillip for that, and also thanks very much to Jenny and everybody who’s organised this, to invite me. I’m very honoured and moved to be invited here, because the politics of the Common Good is where we have to move to now, and it is, and I think that it’s quite safe but it’s very far from the politics that we have had. Yes, it’s very far from the politics that we had and it’s always the case, and we forget it, that everybody is always pushing, you know, asking Lenin’s question, ‘What is to be done?’ They neglect the far greater political thinker, which is Marvin Gaye who asked a much better question - which is, ‘What’s going on?’ This is the dilemma and the paradox, we’ve got to get Marvin Gaye into the foreground, move Lenin right out of it, and we’ve got to ask ourselves and talk to each other about “what’s going on?” before we can get to the place of “what is to be So I want to talk a little about what’s going on just to start with, and what we’re going to face. What’s going on, is an unbelievable process of centralisation of power and wealth in the market and the state. One way of looking at it is, to just tell the story of the Northern Counties Permanent Building Society, which was a North Eastern institution set up around Newcastle in 1850 by dispossessed workers. So, I know Phillip says that Christians took over the state in the nineteenth century, but really what happened in the 1830s was the final push of enclosures where peasants were absolutely expelled from the land, and then there was the abolition of their status of work, just to add to John Battle’s comment “subsidiarity is vital and solidarity is vital”, but status is also vital in that trilogy: subsidiarity, solidarity and status. Work, people who worked, were denied any recognition of work. This is where a very nasty image of England was formed. So, if you were a doctor or an accountant or a lawyer, you had your guild, you had your apprenticeship, you had your vocation Together for the Common Good Conference 6-8 September, 2013 which they then started to call a profession. You know, I’ve never heard of a vocational foul, but I have heard of a professional foul. There was a big denuding of the culture in lots of ways. So basically, if you went to university, you had a profession. If you worked with your mind and your hands, if you were a carpenter or a plumber or a shoemaker, all your status was abolished. So there was the first free market in labour and there was the first free market in land. And this is where my tradition, the labour tradition, comes in. I just want to recognise this. Just to put my philosophy in a nutshell, Phillip says we need something new, well “the old” is “the new”. Tradition is the new. The Labour Movement was built by an unprecedented coalition between the Catholic and the Non-Conformist churches, who said that it wasn’t okay for the poor just to be buried in paupers’ graves. The Co-operative Burial Society was the first institution since the Reformation where the Catholics and Protestant churches came together and honoured the dignity of the person in their death, even if they couldn’t have had it in life. That’s what I really want to honour in this conference. The work of Worlock and Sheppard, is that they resurrected a dead tradition and gave it life, and we need to do So what we need is a politics of the Common Good that digs deeply into our history and into the things that we know – which is that if you take away people’s culture; if you take away every institution and protection; if you take away friendship and association; if you take away forms of belonging and earning that belong to people, then they’re naked in the world and without protection, and that is really tragic. So, what happened in the North East is that the dispossessed workers, the dispossessed peasants got some money together, pooled their money and founded a Building Society, which has that beautiful name, the Northern Counties Permanent Building Society. It really mocks us now, because that was founded in 1850, it lived through four depressions, grew through each depression. You’re going to find the clue to the story, is that in about 1961, it merged with another building society, a status mutual called The Rock, and thus became Northern Rock Building Society. It demutualised in that symbolic year, John, of 1997, and the reality was an institution that lasted for 150 years, served its members, stayed in its locality, had enormous trust, became the fourth largest mortgage lender in the country. In fact, it sponsored Newcastle United. It didn’t last the length of our Labour government. It was demutualised by maximising its return on its assets. It completely lost its foundation, and that precipitated the financial crash. This is not a superficial thing, because now Together for the Common Good Conference 6-8 September, 2013 Wonga is the sponsor of Newcastle United – right: this is a true story, this is not a metaphorical story, and Wonga begins its lending at 4,500% - 5,500% now - it just changed its rules. 5,500%. Let us not forget the institutions of the Labour Movement, the Co-operative banks, the Building Societies. 8 million people went for loans last year, to Wonga and The Money Shop, because they don’t earn enough, and the debt and the excessive levels of interest that people call usury on that debt cause So what I’m talking about when I’m talking about Marvin Gaye is, what’s going on, is people are simultaneously dispossessed of their trust in institutions, that the power of the State centralises, but also the power of capital, the power of the market. I have to raise this issue of capitalism, that capitalism tends towards the centralisation of power, and what we’ve had in our country and what, in their prophetic and magnificent way, the bishops Worlock and Sheppard stood up and railed against, was this centralisation of power in the city of London, and in London, the dispossessed regions in our country [….]….the institutional power of leadership. So what we’re confronting is how do we [……………] If you notice, the [……………] of people, the centralisation of power in the market is […………….] We have to break it, and that’s why, at the moment, politics feels so weird, because we saw in the financial crash in 2008, what was it? September 28th 2008, I know I was just sitting there and as far as I could see (and I still haven’t been contradicted, and I did the research) it was the biggest transfer of wealth from poor to rich since the Norman Conquest. Like, £1.6 trillion was transferred from the public accounts to the banks. And the response of my tradition of the Left was this almost academic silence, and then they said, “Oh, it’s good, because Keynsianism’s back”. You know, State spending’s back. Stimulus package, (you know, the famous problem is the same as with Viagra. What do you do when the stimulus wears off?!) You get that kind of politics when there are no local sources of capital available, and what do we get? We get this constant stress on transferable skills and not on vocation-specific craft, and you get a very weird politics where we know that in 2008, something very profound was happening […………] and that was when we were pursuing absolutely the wrong road. And that was the wrong road [……….] and that was the wrong road as well under New Labour, and that wrong road was a road that put finance capital and public administration as the two dominant institutions in society, and took the power away from people working together to improve their lives. But we haven’t Together for the Common Good Conference 6-8 September, 2013 done anything about it, that’s why I’m very pleased to be here to talk about that, and just to let you know, so you’re not alone in your distress. When thinking about this yesterday, it was the Jewish New Year. The reason why I am in a rather unusually tender mood, was that I had two days in the Jewish New Year where I didn’t read any emails. I really recommend this to everybody, to take two days off, and not answer your phone and not do emails. It suddenly lightens your mood and makes you like people a lot more. It doesn’t last, but it’s a good moment when you come out of it, and yesterday I was requited to have lunch on the Jewish New Year with the old Chief Rabbi, with Jonathan Sacks, who’s just left his job, and he wanted to talk about, you know, repentance, he wanted to talk about the things that he hadn’t done. It’s always quite distressing to meet leaders after they’ve left office who suddenly discover their enormous moral courage - when it’s over. But you have to be, you know, you have to listen to that, because I think we’re all guilty of that, you know - it’s not that easy. And talking to him - he was talking about Jeremiah. He was talking about the prophet Jeremiah, who definitely […………….] Pushing him [Jonathan Sacks], you know, all the things you said, I said, ‘What did it lead to in terms of action?’ You know, the world we build together is a description of the politics of the Common Good, but where did it lead to? That, you know, it wasn’t the easiest passage of conversation […….] we got to this point, he says, ‘It’s not only the Christian tradition [……….] so I’m going to bring in here the Jewish tradition as well, as a complement, as a partner to that, to the common good. In Jeremiah 29, there’s the best definition of the Common Good. Jeremiah 29 begins at verse seven, when it says, ‘Seek the peace of the city, because in its peace you will find peace’. It’s also translated as ‘seek the welfare of the city’. ‘Shalom’ means a lot of things, ‘peace’, ‘welfare’, ‘prosperity’, and ‘goodness’. And in that quote, I think is a tremendous inspiration for us, because what we’ve had, the other thing to answer Marvin Gaye’s question is what we’ve got, is we’ve had this kind of bipolar choice. You’re either completely selfish or you’re altruistic. You’re either selfish or you’re selfless, and none of that is a Common Good politics. What we need is to develop this idea, that if you seek the peace in the city, which the bishops Worlock and Sheppard urged us to do, you yourself will find peace. That there cannot be a peace that we can have that doesn’t involve reconciling estranged interests. Bringing a common life together with people that we are estranged from. That’s what I’d want to finish this conversation about, is the politics of the Common Good that we now have to build - irrespective of what’s going on in Westminster. And Together for the Common Good Conference 6-8 September, 2013 the first is to echo what Phillip said about the lead that Justin Welby has taken on usury is that he said straightforwardly, and I heard him say it in the Lords, that there are 16,000 branches waiting to open. You know, that he’s willing to turn every church into a non-usurious financial institution. There are credit unions, we’ve spoken of trying to build one (and I know it’s hostile territory to Liverpool!) in Salford (I apologise for that) […….] … new banking system. […….] …the churches, and here, we’ve got to heal this division which has come up between the church and labour, not labour as a political party, but between the labour movement and the churches, because both carry traditions of resisting the domination of capital and the […….] State. Those traditions came together to build those institutions that nourished us for 150 years. The Northern Counties Permanent Building Society that we don’t have anymore. None of those mutuals, none of those educational institutions, those burial societies that preserved our dignity for a century and a half. We sold them out to the state, and we sold them out to the market. We’ve got no choice but to rebuild them. So, the language of the common good is going to have to be around this reconciliation of interests between capital and labour, between faithful and secular. [………….] the ones who work at [………….] and Liverpool between Catholic and Protestant, but also they’re going to have to have a [………….] shared life with Muslims too, and with people of no faith, and in relation to all of this [……………] it’s going to be built around the living wage, an interest rate cap, building alternative banking institutions. But we’ve got to do it, we’ve got to be focused on our common purpose and find the energy, because the common good is really the greatest good

Source: http://togetherforthecommongood.co.uk/files/images/conference%20speakers%20texts/T4CG%20MAURICE%20GLASMAN%20transcribed%20speech%207SEP13.pdf

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