Here’s real people power for you. Yesterday in the debating chamber of the Scottish Parliament we voted in favour of a maximum wage, a cap on bank bonuses and renationalisation of the railways. And, no, I wasn’t dreaming.
Admittedly we probably did not represent a typical cross section of the British voting public. This Festival of Politics audience came to hear Annie Lennox, Mark Thomas and Martin Bell talk about Power of the People and how people can influence political decisions. So perhaps we were just a self-selecting bunch of lefties.
But for a few moments there was a heady feeling of power. Mark Thomas claimed this as evidence that most ordinary people do care about politics and maybe he should know as he has toured the country collecting policies for the People’s Manifesto . He was amazed by a popular obsession with dog shit but encouraged by overwhelming support for progressive ideas like a maximum wage (probably not something that appears in George Osborne’s spending cuts consultation) which would ensure that no-one earned more than ten times the minimum wage. If only…
Doorway to the Education Centre where the News Group starts at 10.30 am on Saturday
So my second trip to the Festival of Politics felt like an hour very well-spent. Not least because I am about to take part in an event at the Scottish Parliament myself. On Saturday 21st August the last day of FestofPol, Leith Open Space and the activitist theatre group ACTive Inquiry will present the News Group, a drama workshop exploring topical issues.
Like Open Space events the News Group begins and ends with a circular discussion and yesterday as the three panellists answered questions from their semi-circular audience Mark Thomas commented on the seating arrangement in the debating chamber, deliberately less confrontational than Westminster’s layout. “It doesn’t feel like a parliament at all” he said and it wasn’t meant to be an insult.
Just imagine if politicians, seated in a circle, were spared the whip. Martin Bell claimed we would not have invaded Iraq if politicians had been free to vote as they believed.
Come the revolution we will have free-thinking, free-speaking elected representatives. And of course there will be a maximum wage, no bonuses for bankers owned by the people, and we will travel on national railways that efficiently connect our country from north to south, east to west. It’s all in the People’s Manifesto!