Some feedback from Creating Our Future… October 31, 2010Posted by WorldbyStorm in Economy, Irish Politics, The Left.
I’m just posting these comments from sonofstan and Tomboktu up so others can read them…I hope they won’t mind.
That was a bizarre day.
There was much to cringe at, and I might as well get it out of the way: the music for a start – Mary Coughlan, a folkie doing ‘Talkin’ bout a Revolution’ samba drums, a Gospel choir – it was like being stuck inside the collective head of the Galway Arts Festival in about 1987. And a day that starts with Leonard Cohen and his vacuous chocolate box ‘poetry’ is a day that doesn’t deserve to live in my world…
The format was such that it’s not really possible to give a report, since what you experienced very much depended on what table you found yourself at. Tomboktu sets it out above and it followed that – the voting wasn’t nearly as exciting as the Eurovision though – Equality romped home in the values category: next years event will presumably be in its beautiful capital city.
From talking to others, I reckon my table was a little odd, in that there were 4 out 6 members of political parties (SWP, Labour, CP and Green)and 4 out of six who self- identified as ‘left’ and not the more usual ‘progressive’. I don’t think it would be fair to pick out comments made by individuals in that context, though, so a veil descends…
Where it all got decidedly cheesy was in the revival meeting stuff from the stage – ‘aren’t we all great entirely to be here’ -and the uncritical acceptance that new media by itself was so wonderful, it would probably bring us to the promised land, tweet by tweet.
There is a lot of justice in the notion that it’s the LP at prayer, but still, getting 1,000 people into a room to talk about politics is not something many parties could do, and if it were an LP/ ICTU event, it certainly wouldn’t have gotten the numbers…..
As to CL’s question – I don’t think anyone has a clue, and the notion that policy can be somehow done without politics was embarrassingly present in a lot of the stuff I heard.
I’d really like to hear what anyone else who was there thought, though.
I was relieved when almost everybody at my table complained about the wording of the options in session 2A:
2a Economy and environment
Change the current development model and define and measure progress in a balanced way that stresses economic security and social and environmental sustainability. Ensure that natural resources are developed sustainably and benefit the common good over private profit. Drive a strong indigenous economy through links with appropriate Foreign Direct Investment, state-owned enterprises and investing in specific local enterprise strategies. Regulate banking to change the culture from one of speculative banking to one where currently state-owned banks and new local banking models focus on guaranteeing credit to local enterprises and communities. Prioritise a legally binding national sustainable development strategy that caps resource use, reduces greenhouse gas emissions and implements measures to protect our life support systems.
My table-mates asked: What did the organisers mean by “current development model”? What is “appropriate” foreign direct investment. They also said the phrasing tried to pack a number of different ideas into a single option, and the language used was not good for communicating with people who didn’t spend their time analysing policy.
As we went through the sessions, our table got more awkward, giving more time to proposing different points and different wordings for existing points than we were giving time to ranking the suggestions that CoF had offered. At about the third round of voting, two members objected to voting for the ideas at all.
We pointed out that combating and preventing corruption was missing from the set of priorities. One person complained about the one proposal among the set of twenty that looked out to the wider world (in session 3a):
Ensure Ireland’s global role, foreign and economic policies and international relations advances the rights of impoverished and exploited people in the countries of the global south.
It was described as ‘patronising’ that Ireland’s role in the World is seen solely as focusing on the rights of people in the global south. It also needs to deal with the impact of the EU, the WTO, the IMF, etc. on people in Ireland and the “developed world”.
The biggest problem with the structure channeled discussion in to a task that, in my opinion, was “safe” for CoF: ranking the sets of suggestions they had produced. Now, in fairness, there was the chance to add suggestions, but the software and the time available for each the sessions meant that was very squeezed (and literally in the case of the text boxes on their web interface).
For me, the test about the day as a whole will be what happens with the suggestions that were made from the floor (both new points outside the pre-set agenda and proposals to change the wording of points), and whether the CoF people make any real effort to take on board those views. That will be much more difficult than the task today was, as it will need developing a system for longer, considered debate and a decision-making mechanism that allows details and alternatives in the specifics of proposals to be considered and selected from. (For example, on the “Your Ideas” pages of the Claiming Our Future website, I count four different suggestions specifically about low income, and a few others on caps or other restraints at the top of the income and wealth ranges. The differ in details, and there would need to be a piece of work done on developing a coherent proposal or set of linked proposals.) It will have been little more than a cynical exercise if all that comes out of it is that the CoF people now claim they have a mandate for what their ideas and deal only with those.
I was also heartened to discover I was not alone in the criticism of the exclusive use of the Internet (and an email account) to enable people to register and participate.
(I am also confused how the votes were collated. There were 100 tables, and each ranked four sets of five proposals. For session 2a, the total number of votes comes out at 1394. For the other sessions, the total votes were: 1403, 1329 and 1394 (again).)