Minutes from Democafe meeting, Saturday 20th June 2015 held from 2pm to 4pm at The Forge, Delancey Street, Camden NW1 7NL.
Present: Michael Mulvey (Chair), Janos Abel, James Richmond, Alan Spence, Sara Jolly, Carol McNichol, Mary Fee. Apologies: Eddie Farrell, Denise Arnold.
Minutes of the meeting held on Saturday 13th June 2015 were accepted.
Website Review: Michael emphasised the need for the website to reflect the issues under discussion (those in process and for future discussion), its purpose being to interface with the general public, with content which is consensual, and a distillate of the collective view of DemoCafe members. To achieve this, it was agreed to appoint someone to oversee the website who is accountable to the group, whose remit is to ensure that all member posts are moderated for inclusion, that pages are accurate, correctly tagged and linked, and in a logical order, displaying key topics, with contributory and interim position papers (IPPs) clearly differentiated. James agreed to try this role for a probationary period, and Mary would provide training.
Role of the Media: We went on to discuss the influence of Murdoch and the Barclay brothers, amongst others, controlling the media, and the need to create a space for people to express themselves. Sara explained that newspapers are usually owned by rich people – and non-doms – who tend to have right-wing views, and publish propaganda which influences the majority of people in the elections whilst having no real stake in our democracy. Sara suggested legislation to make ownership of more than one newspaper a criminal offence. Carol thought we could at least have a news blackout to prevent scare-mongering and political posturing during the week before an election, and Michael confirmed that something like this exists in France. We wondered whether private monopoly was worse than state-owned channels, as they have under totalitarian regimes. Janos suggested democratically owned newspapers, e.g. The Guardian is owned by a Trust, and James pointed out that the blogosphere now provides a space for people to speak freely – he recalled that the 1980s saw newspapers failing financially, and power was taken away from the unions under Thatcher – Alan said that instead of going on strike they should have taken over the print works! – http://www.pressgazette.co.uk/content/rupert-murdoch-margaret-thatcher-was-inspiration-fight-against-print-unions.
Michael’s conclusion was that the system is broken and we need a new one, and it was agreed that “The Media” could be a topic for DCC to pursue at a later date.
Managing the DemoCafe Agenda: James says we should move towards a rolling agenda, focusing on topics in an orderly fashion and, developing Position Papers. Michael says he felt that Housing would be the first candidate, and that we should produce an Interim PP in time for the event planned on Housing – by 4th July – he invited members to contribute ideas towards producing an IPP, and he would co-ordinate it. He felt that we should avoid extremes, and propose feasible legislation, for example to protect security of tenure, much as they do in Germany. Alan agreed with this and reminded us that housing is one of our basic needs, he suggested that rather than talk about “housing” we should discuss “homes”, using phrases such as “Homes for All”. James suggested, “A Place to Live” to emphasis this. Michael would produce the IPP by 4th July and Alan would aim to produce an IPP on the NHS by 23rd July 2015.
Networking: Michael felt that we should form synergies with other organisations, and would contact Trevor Griffiths – http://www.trevorgriffiths.co.uk – to find out what the position of the Green Party was on the topic, its ideas might be close to those of DemoCafe’s as well as those of the Constitutionalists – and we can use the Friendly Links page to express such endorsements.
Going Public with DemoCafe: James suggested contacting members of the House of Lords with our proposals as they currently form the only effective block on the Executive. It was mentioned that meetings in the House of Lords could be arranged through a sponsor. James said he knew of someone who might be approached, and Mary said that The Forge also has a good upstairs area. Michael says once we have some IPPs in place, as well as emailing our own networks, how about contacting Camden New Journal, to bring ourselves to a wider audience?
JR/mf/20th June 2015