On the night of the committee stage of The Recall of MPs Bill, Occupy Democracy had organised a forum for The Inaugural Putney Debates. Although the City of London was not quite seized as it was in August 1647 (the date of the Putney Debates to which this paid homage), there was the symbolism of the occupation of Parliament square which had encouraged speakers to suggest alternatives to the political-economic system we face today.

The host of this event was Susanne Ismael, who was representing Quaker Peace and Social Witness. She started proceedings with a brief history of the Putney Debates She then gave the floor to Owen Jones, who sat aloft his new book – The Establishment. The ever-chipper Yorkshire lad was on good form this evening. After sharing a closed-mouth smile with myself, he went on talk about the history of direct democracy, then sharing an anecdote about his first experience at a march – having started a chant alongside his twin sister as an infant, with his father.

Jones then went on to echo the sentiment in his seminal book, Chavs when speaking of the rise of UKIP, who he believes is instating rhetoric among the working class that you should envy your neighbour. That one should blame the immigrant who lives the ‘life of luxury’ on state benefits – instead of addressing the power elites who he says are responsible for the economic situation the UK is in today.

He was applauded off – as he needed to meet another appointment at eight – to make way for Carlo Nero, who was described as an activist and film maker. This chap had the presence of Che Guevara and the goatee facial hair to match. When he announced he was showing his film The Killing Fields, one immediately thought of Cambodia. Is this the chap who won eight BAFTA Awards and three Academy Awards?


The scene opens with Fred Harrison, an author and land reform activist (also on the panel), outside ‘Wildwoods’ – a wildlife trust in Herne Bay, Kent. He meets the Chief Executive, Peter Smith (also on the panel), who is a Geordie chap with a hiking hat and a familiar goatee.

Suffice to say, the talk about beaver conservation wasn’t the most riveting, but they did address some interesting points regarding land reform. Peter Smith had suggested taxing land rather than income. This has the effect of encouraging people to cultivate their land more responsibly and it would democratise land allocation – with 900 hectares of land being derelict in London alone.

This was followed by a speech given by Victoria Chick, an economist and lecturer at University College London, who described herself as a veteran Keynesian. She gave a concise and well-presented account of the economic crash and placed a lot of responsibility on Competition and Credit Control – a policy of the Bank of England, which operated from 1971 – 1973. Under this policy the bank sought to control money supply indirectly through open market operations, instead of through the direct lending ceilings imposed on individual banks used formerly.

She finished on a poignant point which is widely recited in the circles, but is prevalent nonetheless, that during the time of the crash, financial services seemed to get all the gains, but socialise their losses. Socialism for the rich, austerity for the poor.

The penultimate talk of the evening was from a Financial Times Journalist, Izabela Kaminska. Kaminska gave the most engaging talk of the evening, providing slides with Star Trek, to which I was duped like the Porter in Macbeth. The essence of the speech was that we had arrived at The Brave New World, which Aldous Huxley had warned us of.

John Sinha was then strong-armed by a few rogue audience members into giving an ad-lib speech. Sinha is a General Purpose Activist with Occupy Democracy, who had been present at the recent occupations in Parliament Square. He poked fun at the ridiculous bravado of the Heritage Wardens, who were tasked with taking care of the grass during the occupation. He mused that the grass had more rights than the people protesting. He made an affable point about Parliament not representing the interests of the many, but the few at the top, then announced that Occupy will be heading back to Parliament Square in November, in larger numbers – so stay tuned.

The event finished with a Q&A with the audience, which involved a few lectures from an array of leftists, before the event wound down to a close.

On the issue of Occupy and its wider implications, David Dewhurst (organiser of the event), had stated : ‘When the Alpine economic landscape is softened, systems must develop to stem the recreation of pinnacles from potholes. In one of our developing documents the set of suggestions runs into hundreds. The truth the plethora of mainstream commentators will struggle to avoid to their last tax return is simple: The rich must pay. Face that fact and intelligent debate can begin’.

So begin, guys.

Bonne chance,

By Roy Mulloy


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