The EU, what are the questions? Follow up

We had a a very informative discussion at the last Friday Room meeting  at which we were able to explore the issues behind the EU debate without anyone trying to push a particular outcome. Here are some notes I made. If anyone at the meeting would like to clarify or add to this report please comment below or email me directly:

Regulation and independence from Brussels
Regulations are seen as too complex and unevenly applied. However, it may be that, where the directive says things like: “These are not intended to be enforced onerously on small businesses”, that it is over-enthusiastic UK regulators rather than Brussels that is the problem.

Democracy
The word democracy, in its narrow sense of voting on decisions, was originally conceived to work with small groups of citizens, but throughout the world it seems to work less satisfactory at larger scales.
UK democracy is in a bad state, with a widespread disillusionment with politics and an unrepresentative government. (The first-past-the-post voting system must bear some blame for this.)
There is a need for a better Europe-wide democracy, which I think implies the development of participatory decision-making beyond simple voting systems. See the “European Citizens’ Initiative” and indeed the activities of 38 Degrees.

Sovereignty
Needs to be put in perspective. We are faced with a potential massive and total loss of control over our institutions to the international corporations. Compared to this, the partial and negotiable sharing of control to our neighbours is trivial. Note however that the EU has yet to conclude the TTIP talks, so it is not clear how much EU membership can shield us from world domination by the corporations.

Corruption
Not on everybody’s list of issues, but there is good evidence that a high level of corruption is incompatible with the level of prosperity that goes with EU membership. Greece and Italy both have such a high level of corruption, which means that bailouts to these countries have gone to feeding corruption rather than remedying matters.
EU needs to develop better anti-corruption policies. Note that corruption in Turkey is at an even greater level.

Peace and morality
Peace with Europe is maintained by things like mutual dependence, working together, and being closer neighbours, and not so much by the making of rules. We would like to change the emphasis away from the individual and towards the community, and to see moral values such as human rights upheld. We don’t trust our own government.

Is the referendum decision reversible?
If we vote to stay in, surely we could just have another referendum after a reasonable time?
On the other hand, if we vote to leave would it not require very complex negotiations to get back?

Role for 38 Degrees
Has voted not to take sides but maybe take some sort of myth-busting role. Maybe there is a role in which it is accepted that there are indeed a lot of issues where the EU needs to do much better. (As we concluded.)
38 Degrees should draw up a list of these issues, get people to say if they agree or disagree and in effect say to the powers that be in the EU: “If we stay in, these are the changes that we require” or perhaps better “regardless of which way the vote goes, these are the changes that we want”.
Further, 38 Degrees should make contact and liaise with all the other European, pro-democracy grass-roots movements.
The politicians have had their go, now is the time for the people to say what they really want!

John Greenwood

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The EU, what are the questions?

EU_Question Informal discussion.

Friday 18th from 7:30 to 9:00

In the downstairs back room at the Swan in the Rushes
This is not a organised in-out debate but rather to a discussion to identify the issues and the uncertaintities.

National 38 degrees seem to favour the idea of taking a neutral myth busting role. What do local members think?

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Should we be more “democratic”?

At the recent Friday Room discussion it was suggested that we should be more organised and that a lack of “democracy” means that the Friday Room is somehow unacceptable.

I have the impression that most attendees would not agree with this view and accept the informality of the way meetings are organised.

My perception of the Friday Room is that it is a discussion group only.

It does not aim to take any unified action or indeed to come to any agreement about the topic being discussed.
The only outcome is individual wisdom and individual actions.
There is no defined membership and no expectation of regular attendance.
It might be better thought of as a place rather than an organisation, A bit like Hyde Park Corner.

I also think there is a wider issue of the meaning of democracy. Governance can be entirely top down with a dictator, benevolent or otherwise, or to some degree bottom up with the governed having a some control. The problem is that the governed are many, divided and ignorant, so the practical problems in giving effective control to the governed.
There is a range of “tools” available, the ballot is the most obvious, but there are also petitions, demonstrations, polling, focus groups and consultations, which admittedly have sever limitations. The idea that having a ballot is the definition of democracy and, if you have a one, everything is ok, is dangerously wrong. The ballot, the tool with highest regard, also has limitations and sometimes just does not work.

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Informal meeting, 5th Feb

The upstairs room at the Organ Grinder (used to be the Pack Horse) has been booked for Friday 5th Feb 2016. Meeting to start at 7:30.

Several people have expressed concern about homelessness and we need to discuss what next for the Friday Room.

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Unions on Film: Pride

PrideFriday 18th December, 7:30pm, Unity House, 21 Fennel Street, Loughborough LE11 1UQ

Presented by Unite Community and the Friday Room

Pride is a 2014 British LGBT-related historical comedy-drama film written by Stephen Beresford and directed by Mathew Warchus.

Based on a true story, the film depicts a group of lesbian and gay activists who rasied money to help the families affected by the miners’ strike in 1984, at the outset of what would become the Lesbian and Gays Support the Miners campaign.

Free Admission – Buffet and drinks

A collection will be made towards the costs of the Buffet and wine

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Syria – the Ayes Have It

The ayes have it, but who gets it? An open meeting to discuss the decision by our government to join coalition forces in the bombing of Syria and aspects of the debate.

Open meeting, Friday the 4th December, at the Organ Grinder Pub, 4 Woodgate, Loughborough, LE11 2TY. 7:30pm

Various speakers will introduce the discussion to get the debate going, and then its up to you! Come and listen to the arguments, and have your say.

All welcome

 

 

 

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Nasty things in International Food Production

Source booksFriday 20th November, 7:30pm, Unity House, Fennel Street, Loughborough

Discussion to be introduced by David Girdler

World food production now depends on factory farming/fishing. This food
is produced with the aid of chemicals to control disease and pests. The
problems of pollination, worker poisoning and distribution miles will be
dealt with.

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