Take confidence away with you!

Ann Pettifor speaking at the ‘Economy for the 99%’ Conference in Derby

“Take away with you the confidence that we have the answer” was Ann Pettifor’s message to attendees at the event I was at yesterday.  The day conference in Derby was about building an economy which works for the majority rather than the minority.  Ann was the driving force behind the ‘Jubilee 2000′ debt campaign; her message was as well-argued and coherent here as it was then.

I will also take some other messages away from this day, some of which were intended and some incidental.  These include:

  • that there are many traditional union-types who were unhappy with the Blair and Brown policies, and who continue to be frustrated by today’s Labour party
  • Denmark’s good progress on low-carbon energy is built strongly on community-owned, co-operative renewable energy installations
  • the World Development Movement is using the disproportionate impact of climate change on some of the world’s poorest as a way of highlighting the need for action, and
  • we should be prepared to use drama and other sorts of entertainment performance more as they can be a powerful way to get messages across.

Ann delivered the key note speech for the conference, providing background on our current economic woes and outlined a path to a world where people can find livelihoods and climate change is overcome.  Two elements were key to this: First that we need to use the banking sector and its ability to create spending power to our advantage.  Second that we mustn’t be afraid of physical work.

Although she didn’t mention this, the link between physical work and climate change chimed well with previous talks I have attended.  For example Colin Campbell, a respected petro-geologist compared the energy in every barrel of oil to that available from human work.  Put like this it’s no wonder that we feel rich compared to previous generations – our global oil use is equivalent to the work from over 20billion slaves.  That’s nearly three for everyone across the globe, and those of us in the developed Western countries have far more than our share.  And that’s just from the energy in oil – add the other fossil fuels and it’s even more.

But this life of luxury comes at a price – the price of people without work and growing climate change.

There is a new campaign starting, linking these two major challenges, called ‘Shift’, being run by the Alliance for Jobs and Climate.  It has dual aims to shift to renewable energy and shift investment into job creation.

These are a very similar set of actions as I have been talking about and advocating for years – now being presented as part of a left wing agenda.

I think of myself as relatively moderate, middle of the road – but radical.  However, maybe this more “left-wing” presentation will help to stir people to action.  But it shouldn’t be an exclusively left-wing issue…

There are many ways to implement this changed vision – to move to a new paradigm.  I, and other Lib Dems, therefore need to help ensure that this radical agenda is delivered in a liberal and a democrat manner…

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