Notes of meeting held on 28th March 2015 at the Forge, Camden
– and The Camden Head (moved mid-meeting due to Brazilian musical event).
Present: Eddie Farrell (chair), Janos Abel, Denise Arnold, Sarah Jolly, Margaret Nicholson, Mary Fee (note-taker). Apologies: James Richmond, Carol McNichol, Alan Spence. Minutes of last meeting on 21st March 2015, were approved.
Logistics: With reference to Michael Mulvey’s recent email query whether Democafe has a postal address, an email address, and a telephone contact number? Eddie referred to the previous mail-chimp that Peter McGinty had run, and that the method now is for Eddie to hold the list and BCC, to avoid members seeing each other’s email addresses. Mary explained two other methods, an email group, and a mailman discussion lists, both of which allow any member to make an input. After discussion it was felt that the current was sufficient for now, and the priority was the face-to-face meeting. This could be revisited in the future.
Mission Statement (see Michael’s Mulvey’s email message), that “a short and carefully worded DemoCafe Camden Mission Statement (highlighting the Democratic Deficit and how far we had advanced from Magna Carta until the political rot began to set in seriously around the early 1980’s) should be prepared and adopted ASAP. I can have a crack at coming up with a draft”. It was agreed that this was an excellent idea to try and give
Democafe a concise overarching statement of intention, also good way of Michael staying an integral part of the loop. One added point made later by Sally, (irony not lost in Michael drafting the statement from France) She thought our statement should stress the importance of face to face group meetings.
KEY TOPICS: For subjects to form a Democafe standpoint document
• Housing: Janos working with James on this, need to do some work on the problem that property is being solid off to foreign investors. Mary said that Jacques Peretti’s two programmes on The Super-Rich – (no longer available on BBC IPlayer , but is on Youtube episode 1 of 2 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0wzFNuAUCF0 ) – were the clearest exposition she had seen of the problem, that London was deliberately made into a Tax Haven by the Tories to attract rich investors, but Eddie, even though he thought the programme was good, felt disappointed at the main thrust of Jacques Peretti’s conclusion; that people who were not part of the Super rich club were feeling left out, they were angry, envious even and wanted their share. Eddie feels he failed to point out that many people were questioning and looking for an alternative to the system that creates the super rich in the first place.
• Denise mentioned “The Mayfair Loophole” – see article by Chris Green in the Independent on Sunday 29th March 2015: http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/politics/private-equity-bosses-using-700m-tax- loophole–and-donating-to-the-tories-10054911.html. See also the 38 Degrees Petition on this topic: https://secure.38degrees.org.uk/page/s/close-the-mayfair-tax- loophole#petition
• Russell Brand’s idea of squatting such properties.
Plaque idea (“Buy to Leave”) discussed. Eddie hopes to have the finished design printed up before next week’s meeting. Sarah suggested a rogues gallery on the internet rather than the expense of creating the plaques in physicality.
• Mary wondered if we should connect with an organisation that identifies empty properties: http://www.emptyhomes.com. Eddie had already asked a few questions and knew that certain information could be gleaned at a price from the Land Register. Meaning you’ld end up spending a fair bit of money if you wanted to officially check a whole street.
• NHS – Alan Spence will hopefully return to update us next week…General discussion today: problem that budgets are being squeezed, little preventative care, privatisation was already advanced, also bed-blocking because of the problem of arranging for care by social services, which came from the Local Authority budget, which was squeezed, and this was the reason that family members were in preference being identified to provide care, but the latest being mooted was that carers allowances were going to be cut.
• Drugs – with reference to Carol’s statement about drugs, we should re-read and discuss this next time, when hopefully she will be present. The use of drugs should be decriminalised, drug addiction is a medical problem which criminalisation does nothing to solve. The criminalisation of drugs is ridiculous how can you make a plant illegal, the war on drugs merely exacerbates the problem it claims to be dealing with. There is no evidence that the illegality of a substance ever stopped anybody from using it, if criminalisation worked drugs would be difficult to obtain, this is not the case.
• TTIP (Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership) -Denise offered to prepare a short text for discussion on TTIP to establish Democafe’s standpoint, – see http://freecriticalthinking.org/daily-pickings/1302-trade-trading-trades-ttip -also Wikipedia article: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Transatlantic_Trade_and_Investment_Partnership, also article in the Independent by Lee Williams on 7th October 2014: http://www.independent.co.uk/voices/comment/what-is-ttip-and-six-reasons-why-the-answer-should- scare-you-9779688.html
• Sociocracy; Eddie, spoke about a proposal by Chris Coverdale (Sociocracy-creating a truly democratic society) were tax payers could exercise their rights to withhold money from questionable miltary adventures – Eddie would like to see if any aspects of this proposal could be put forward to be added to Democafe’s standpoint. See http://sociocracyuk.ning.com, also http://www.sociocracy.biz. With reference to work by Chris Coverdale – see http://www.makewarshistory.co.uk. Eddie would contact Chris to follow up on this .Denise also has some resources she could draw on for this topic. See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sociocracy, also http://www.sociocracy.info
Other headings needing an Democafe draft author.
• Environment/ Ecology –
• The Economy – NB local council budgets being slashed
LEAFLET: Eddie had got a quote for printing 1000 A4 from a local printer, but the figure he quoted sounded very high, so Mary said she would get some contacts for printing, e.g. http://www.londonclp.co.uk and http://www.solopress.com.
On the question of how many, are they going to put them through everyone’s door like the greens, which would need many more copies, an be very expensive, Mary suggested that if you put something through the door, instead of an A4 flier or newsletter, it could be an A6 card with a website address which would enable expansion into other areas, e.g. www.camden.democafe.org, or www.democafe.org/camden, which could contain Democafe position statement, meeting dates, agendas, minutes, papers etc, but this was for the future.
QUESTIONS FOR HUSTINGS: Climate change hustings 8th April 2015
Perhaps questions prepared here are innappropriate for a husting on climate change but never the less we should keep build a list of our questions to be asked at other events.
Denise suggested that we find out what kind of meetings are being planned, i.e. is it a forum set-up or an opportunity to put questions to put to the PPCs. We know something of the candidates, Natalie Bennett, Keir Starmer, Not only what the policy says but how they are going to implement it locally. At the meeting we came up with the following questions:
Q Given that Camden has 28k applicants looking for housing, and only 2k houses available, what is their policy on Affordable Housing?
Q. In view of the fact that Council Tax is collected centrally, then grants are given out to Local Authorities, what is their policy on allowing local councils more control of their budgets?
Q. What they are passionate about?
Q. In view of talk we’ve heard about cutting carers allowances, which benefits are you prepared to support, increase or reduce?
Q. What proposals do you have for NHS reform, to ensure that care is available free of charge at the point of need, and how would you fund that securely?
NEXT MEETING: Sat 4th April 2015 2pm – 4pm at The Forge.