Positive Money supporters have been attending hustings events up and down the country to question their candidates on money creation. Here, Kirsten de Keyser from Camden local group of Positive Money supporters shares her experience. Read our top tips for attending a hustings here.
“Financial crises cause our government to roll back environmental regulations and de-prioritise tackling climate change. The underlying way money is created results in an unstable, boom-bust financial system. 97% of all money is created by commercial, profit-seeking banks. Would you support the setting up of a Commission in the next parliament to consider how the monetary system could better serve society?”
This is a question which needs to be put to every one of the hundreds of hopefuls standing for election to the House of Commons on 7th May. More than any political rhetoric, their replies to this question will reveal just how realistic their ideas for running the country actually are.
The notion that effective governance needs to have “It’s the Economy, Stupid” running through it like lettering in a stick of Brighton rock, is a given. What is less accepted, if entertained at all, is that any economic system is only as effective as the way it handles its money supply.
It is therefore deeply depressing that this fundamental premise is most often ignored by debates concerning anything from the funding of the NHS to the renewal, or otherwise, of Trident, Britain’s nuclear weapons system.
To get the ball rolling, Camden Positive Money this week took the opportunity to attend a North London hustings event hosted by Camden Climate Action Network. It was fair guess that the environment was going to be in pole position, so our question was duly framed in appropriately relevant language.
Green policies have been dealt some serious blows in the face of the austerity-driven agenda of the last five years, with a decidedly below-the-belt jab swung by David Cameron reportedly considering the environmental agenda ‘green crap’, his husky expedition now a distant memory.
For prospective politicians, aiming sustainable shots in this direction is therefore akin to firing at an open goal and all the local candidates had dutifully turned up to display their recycled credentials. Including one who had not been invited. Natalie Bennett (GREENS), William Blair (CON), Jill Fraser (LD) and Sir Keir Starmer (LAB) looked on forlornly, while a very annoyed, loud heckler got the meeting off to a surprisingly spirited start.
As it turned out, Socialist Equality Party candidate David O’Sullivan had not been asked to join the panel, but he was having none of it. In a gesture of democracy-in-action Chair Stephen Tindale counted a show of hands, which decided that Mr O’Sullivan should, indeed, be given a place on the platform. So, with the revolutionary man duly equipped with a table, chair and a bottle of water, the proceedings got under way.
250 pairs of expectant eyes and ears, hoping to become better informed about where to put their cross on the ballot paper, sat to attention. The young woman in the next seat leaned over and whispered “I’m the only young person here!” And indeed, a quick backwards scan of the room revealed an average age of around 65. A pretty catastrophic state of affairs, actually, given that the topic of the evening will disproportionately affect the under-20s. The climate doesn’t affect you much when you’re six foot under. But that’s for another blog post.
We learnt that renewable energy had tripled under the coalition government, we were reminded that it was Labour who signed the Kyoto protocol and that Ed Miliband ‘gets’ climate change but doesn’t talk about it. We were also told that the UK languishes in 20th place in the EU green league table, which prompted one attendee to opine that “Cameron’s greenest government ever is now a sad, sick joke”.
Lots of blame was laid variously at the ‘polluting war in the Middle East’, the ‘grotesque fraud of Carbon Emissions Trading’, disastrous deforestation and the current fascination with fracking everything that doesn’t move. A novel green shoot is, apparently, happening next door in Islington, where they have started sucking excess heat up from the tube lines deep underground to heat buildings. Clever.
As the debate trundled on, increasingly soaring rhetoric to do with ‘Strong Economy!’ … ‘Fair Economy!’ … ‘Green Economy!’ filled the room to enthusiastic applause. But at no point did anyone stop to ask precisely what those laudable phrases meant and how, exactly, they would be achieved.
Why should the next five years be any different from the last five years?
The evening was predicated on the BBC Question Time format with questions submitted in advance, to be duly called by the chair, as and when deemed appropriate to the debate at hand. So, blurting out our question at will was not really an option. In any event, there was sure to be an economic reality check at some point in the proceedings. Wasn’t there?
With the clock ticking away towards the scheduled finishing time, this prospect became ever more distant with every forward clunk of the big hand. The candidates had all sounded as if they really belonged in the Green Party, so sustainably environmentally renewable were their stated aims.
Be that as it may, after a full two and a half hours of deliberating, the elephant in the room remained sadly neglected. Remember “It’s the Economy Stupid”? But not once did anyone address the fact that every single grievance expressed could be laid at the fortified gate of our fractional reserve banking system that is a lodestone for our artificially profit driven generating of money.
Wars, Carbon Emissions, fracking or deforestation, whichever stone you lift, underneath you will find a fat feline making money on the money lent to the protagonists of any commercial pursuit on the planet. And until we address that calamity, we are merely fiddling while Rome burns. Only this time, it won’t stop at Rome.
Guest posts represent the views of the author and not necessarily those of Positive Money.
Read more in our guide to hustings.
Please sign our petition to tell the future Prime Minister of the UK that money creation should only be used in the public interest. And if you’ve signed it already, share it your friends on Facebook and Twitter. And/or send them an email – here’s a simple text you can copy:
I’ve signed this petition to prevent banks from creating money. I think you’ll find it interesting – have a look and consider to sign the petition too!http://bsd.wpengine.com/petition