Where now for progressive politics after election?

what choice is right?

Which way?

Friday 22nd May, 7:30pm, Unity House, Fennel Street, Loughborough

Ray Sutton will introduce the discussion with a survey of what is being talked about in the newspapers.

Can the Labour Party reinvent itself? Will the Lib Dems arise from the ashes? Has electoral reform come back on the agenda?

Can there ever be an alliance of progressive that could stand together in the face of the sort of relentless scaremongering campaign we have just fallen victim of?

Themes that have come up before in the Friday Room are still relevant:

Reframing the issues, for example, “The 99% versus the 1%” where “the 1% rule for the benefit of the 1%” and “Economic rules are controlled by the 1% to be in their favour”. This may be more acceptable for many because the words are simple and carry no baggage.

The 99% are developing a voice in the shape of the social media and online campaigns, such as 38 degrees. So far this voice is ephemeral and sometimes childish. Can this voice evolve to the point that it can challenge the 1%?

There are also economic developments like Crowd sourcing and peer to peer lending that enables economic action without depending on the 1%. This continues a rich history of the mutual societies and cooperatives.

Consumerism is an ideology that is counter to the values of compassion and respect, central to any vision of a better society and a foundation of all the great faiths. It is also addictive.

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Vote Swap

Ruth Allen brings this cunning scheme to our attention:


How it works

The idea is simple. We want to let Green and Labour supporters swap votes in ways that boost both of their parties and gives the best possible chance of stopping the Conservatives from winning the election.

Only some Labour and Green supporters live in seats where their vote is likely to make a difference to which MP will win in their constituency. In others everyone knows which party will win. First-past-the-post elections mean that votes only make a difference in a few battleground seats.

This is particularly tough for new parties. Even a significant share of the national vote does not translate into seats. And what’s worse, those who live in battleground seats face the dilemma of voting for the party they most want to support or casting the most effective vote against the big party they dislike the most.

In this close election, even the results in a few seats could make the difference between David Cameron continuing as prime minister or not. In many key battleground seats this gives Green voters a dilemma. Do they vote for the party they most support and help build its national vote – or vote in a way most likely to stop the Conservatives returning to government?

But what if a Green supporter in a Labour battleground swaps their vote with a Labour supporter in a safe seat? The Green supporter in a Labour battleground helps Labour win to keep out the Conservatives. The Labour supporter in a safe seat votes Green to boost the Green national vote share across the country. It’s win-win. This is where VoteSwap comes in.


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The Great War Centenary Debate: “Haig – has history been fair?”

Charnwood Great War Centenary Project


The Great War Centenary Debate:

Haig – has history been fair?”

Thursday 7th May 2015, 7.30

Loughborough Library,

Granby Street, LE11 3DZ

Tickets: £3 under 18’s free


Loughborough Library



0116 3052420

Chair: Bill Brookman

Proposer: Dr. Neil Faulkner

Proposer-seconder: Dr. Ray Sutton MA, PhD

Opposer: Dr. Matthew S. Seligmann MA, DPhil,

Opposer-seconder: Michael Woods MA

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Who is my Neighbour? Are we becoming a Community of Communities or a Society of Strangers?

WhoNeighbourFriday 10th April, 7:30, Loughborough United Reformed Church on Frederick Street.

Discussion to be introduced by Daphne Beale

In their pastoral letter to the churches the Bishops argue that  the extent of loneliness in society today, with the attendant problems of mental and physical health, is one indication of how far we have drifted into a society of strangers. But that drift is far from complete — and few people, if asked, would say that a society of strangers represents a vision of society which they desire.

Our political life would be equally enhanced if it were possible to speak about markets, business and the profit motive as an impressively effective system of distribution in a complex society and hugely liberating of human creativity — but one that also tends to entrench inequality, diminish human sympathies and, unchecked, damage the conditions for its own flourishing. Adam Smith, the father of market economics, understood that, without a degree of shared morality which it neither creates nor sustains, the market is not protected against its inbuilt tendency to generate cartels and monopolies which undermine the principles of the market itself.

They suggest three criteria for judging any austerity measure: Is it fair? (giving priority to the vulnerable) Is it generous? (including the obligation to share our resources) Is it sustainable? (taking into account the interests of future generations).

The answer to the question  who is my neighbour? will deeply affect the way we practise our lives and the values we promote. If my neighbour is only one who agrees with me, practises my lifestyle, looks like me and shares my ability (or inability) to think through the issues then we end up with a fractured society, with gross inequalities and increasing levels of stress in all parts of society. If my neighbour is a wider concept then maybe we can mend our society so that all feel they are part of a community, we can reduce the inequalities and just possibly improve the well being of us all.

Some useful websites

Joint Public Issues Team (JPIT) publications


There are a whole series of publications on current issues well researched
by the churches working together. Among them are:

2013    The lies we tell ourselves: ending comfortable myths about poverty.
2013    Faith in foodbanks?
2015    Time to rethink Benefit Sanctions
2015    Faith in Politics – Preparing Churches for the General Election 2015
(a paper giving one side of A4 to each of 16 issues relevant to the coming

One theme of the Joint Public Issues Team is ‘Think, Pray, Vote’.
The Archbishop spoke on this theme at a JPIT conference on 21 Feb 2015.
You can find his speech on this website using the theme.


Also of interest are the following:

The House of Bishops’ Pastoral Letter on the 2015 General Election titled
‘Who is my Neighbour?’ (a 52 page article looking at issues in our society
urging people to vote after careful thought and prayer). The letter can be
found at


and look for the letter.

Another interesting paper has been produced locally by the Diocese of
‘How do you get by?’ comes from the Bishop’s Commission on Poverty. This
can be found on


and click on Poverty Commission.

Churches Together in Britain and Ireland have produced a paper
‘2020vision: The Good Society and the General Election’.
Look for it under


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Discussion with the progressive Parliamentary candidates

AboveFriday 27th Mar, 7:30pm, Unity House, Fennel Street, Loughborough

Matthew O’Callaghan – Labour  Matt Sisson – Green Party and Steve Coltman – Lib Dems will answer questions

There is a widespread disillusion with politics based on a perception that it is dominated by Westminster-based career politicians. This is not helped by our first-past-the-post voting system.

We have a government which is determined to sell off as much as possible of what were public assets. In particular, housing is seen as an investment opportunity rather than a public service. Via a secret deal being negotiated known as TTIP, the government are effectively offering our public services, including our beloved NHS, for sale to multinational corporations and companies with a poor service record, owned by Tory donors.

This Government is by the wealthiest 1%  for the benefit of this 1%.

There is a general state of denial about climate change and limits to growth. There could be a decent life for all, but only by moving away from the economics of maximising consumption and inequality.

The above candidates will discuss the alternatives, particularly on issues like Trident (nuclear weapons ), accountability to the electorate, education, the NHS, the environment and climate change, and tactical voting.

(The Friday Room is an independent discussion group with no links to the owners of Unity House and does not support any particular Party)

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What’s happening in March 2015

The next proper meeting is not until 27th March, when we have invited, Labour party candidate, Matthew O’Callahgn and Green Party candidate, Matt Sissons. A detailed announcement will be made nearer the time. Meanwhile here are some other events that Friday Roomers might be interested in:

6 March: Some members are meeting informally at Unity house at 7:15 for 7:30. (Ruth asks: please arrive on time.)

13 March: A performance of the play “United We Stand” about the Shrewsbury 24 at the Quorn Grange Hotel.

20 March: “Education Question Time” at Charnwood College with:

Nicky Morgan – Secretary of State for Education and MP for Loughborough,

Matthew O’Callaghan – Labour Party candidate for Loughborough

Matt Sisson – Green Party candidate for Loughborough,

Christine Blower – General Secretary of the National Union of Teachers,
Professor Howard Stevenson – Professor of Educational Leadership and Policy Studies, Nottingham University,
The event has been organised by the NUT and will be chaired by BBC Radio Leicester presenter, Jonathan Lampon

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Corruption and fat-cats are the enemies of prosperity

ProperityVcorruptionWith the election looming and most people looking for better times, it is instructive to consider what prevents greater prosperity. Comparing different countries, what stands out strongly is that the greater the level of corruption the lower the prosperity, however you define it. That corruption is the enemy of prosperity is hardly a surprise, just ask: in Europe which countries are in financial difficulties?  and which have significantly higher levels of corruption?

We can easily see the mechanism by which corruption reduces prosperity, corrupt practices simply siphon off money from enterprise.  But legal practices can do the same. For example, ticket touts are not illegal but are entirely detrimental to the prosperity of individuals wanting the tickets. Is there really any difference in financial effect between an executive in any business paying themselves an excessive salary and embezzling the same excess?

In common language these are the people we define as “fat-cats”. The effect of a single fat-cat, like the effect of a single corrupt individual, may not be significant, but the widespread existence and tolerance of both fat-cattery and corruption drains away prosperity.

What is the evidence? It seems very likely that the cumulative effect of many fat-cats will tend to increase inequality. Again, comparing different countries, greater levels of inequality correlate with lower prosperity. The degree of correlation is not as strong as with corruption but it is there. We can say that fat-cat induced inequality probably reduces overall prosperity but certainly does not increase it, While it may increase the prosperity of the fat-cats themselves, the prosperity of the majority, the 99%, is significantly reduced.

Corruption and fat-cats are the enemies of prosperity.

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