“Community Politics is not a technique. It is an ideology, a system of ideas for social transformation. For those ideas to become a reality there is a need for a strategy of political action. For that strategy to be successful it needs to develop effective techniques of political campaigning. Those techniques are a means to an end. If they become an end in themselves, the ideas they were designed to promote will have been lost.
Community Politics is not local. It is universal. It is an approach to the collective making of decisions and the co-operative regulation of society that is relevant in any social group, from the family to the world.
Community Politics is not government. It is about people. It is about their control of the exercise of power. It is about the distribution of power, the use of power, the dissemination of power and the control of power. It is an approach to the way in which decisions are made. It is not limited to the making of ‘political’ decisions within the structures of ‘government’.
Community Politics is not about elections. Elections are an essential ingredient in the process of community politics, a necessary and vital element in the conduct or social affairs. If elections and the holding of elected office become the sole or even the major part of our politics we will have become corrupted by the very system of government and administration that community politics sets out to challenge. The process will have displaced the motivating ideas. We will have lost our reason for fighting elections at all.”
The picture is of me as ward secretary with three councillors, Jenny Bailey, Omana Gangadharan and Lester Hudson, representing my ward in Newham. It’s safe to say that Newham is a safe Labour borough but we campaigned actively winning all 60 seats and getting our new mayoral candidate Rokhsana Fiaz elected as Mayor.
I freely admit that I do not know much about the intricacies of national and party politics and so I was initially puzzled that some Labour supporters were disappointed by the overall results of the local elections in which Labour was well ahead in the number of seats gained. But I understand now that only 150 out of 405 councils held elections this year and a map of those councils shows a sea of blue with a few islands of red. It was this support boosted in the May 2017 local elections that made Theresa May miscalculate the odds of smashing Labour in the June 2018 general elections. With a total of 20,209 councillors, an increase by 77 is a drop in the ocean. Nevertheless given the mobilisation of the MSM and establishment against the Corbyn project a hold is a creditable performance. There is a lot of work to do if the Corbyn project is to succeed and given the orientation of the MSM much of this work has to involve very deep conversation that challenges political and ethical assumptions.
This is a nice video showing why we need a well funded police service. Like Education and Health the Police have seen big cuts in the service they are able to offer since 2010. Cut these essential services and we damage the wellbeing of society.
This post is specifically for Newham residents. Many moons ago an online forum was set up in Newham. It described itself as “a place online where you can discuss the local issues that matter to you. It is a place where people living in the London Borough of Newham come together to exchange ideas, opinions, and information on local affairs. In this forum we use real names and agree to participate with civility.”
There were hopes that the Forum would have a big impact on local government and be supported by the council. It didn’t have that impact or get that support and since that was what many of the original drivers of the project wanted it was gradually abandoned. I had a look at it. The structure is still there and the machinery still works and it has some advantages over FB and Twitter. I think it can easily be re-purposed as a local community space that is cultural, social and political.
If anyone fancies a bit of ‘virtual archaeology’ join me by registering at and exploring the Newham Issues Forum.
Yesterday evening I attended a meeting of Newham Momentum members or more accurately a meeting of prospective members of a prospective Newham Momentum group. The meeting took place at a ‘pop-up’ pub on Winchelsea Road in Forest Gate. There were six or seven people gathered around a table when I first got there and Rohksana, the local councillor who facilitated the meeting, introduced me saying that it was my intervention at the last meeting that has prompted this informal meeting. I said I felt that I had to be there as I had asked for this. I was very surprised when one of the attendees, Mike, said that he had read my description of the last meeting on my Netstorms blog. He said that he hadn’t been looking me up but had been looking for a report on the meeting. Of course I never expect anyone to read anything I write .. but I’m not going to let that change me or the blog.
A short while after I arrived more people arrived and I would say that there were around 25 attendees. The meeting was mainly social and afforded people time to chat informally with each other. I had envisaged a more formal informality with people expressing and listening to ideas and perspectives, but this informal informality was I think better at this stage. It was good chatting and much of the chat was about the right wing, Blairite, complexion of politics and the Constituency Labour Party in Newham. It is that complexion we need to change as part of our efforts to support Jeremy Corbyn and in order to do this we have to get involved with the local party structure. I’ve never been a party (political) animal and I am not keen on getting involved in arcane structures inhabited and run by probable hostiles but I do understand the necessity for this and accept that I have to venture beyond the comfort zone around my keyboard. I think that if I have any sort of ‘mission’ in regard to all this it must have to do with making the local political environment less hostile and more comprehensible to outsiders.
Rohksana spoke to the group briefly and confirmed that we would have the support of national Momentum in setting up a Newham Momentum group. I exchanged telephone numbers with some people. Rohksana took everyone’s email addresses. We agreed that we should meet again next months. I talked about the importance of using social media and agreed to work with another attendee, Stuart, who also keen on setting up a Facebook group and exploring the use of social media.
I thought it was a good meeting and a good start and as far as I can tell everyone else thought so too.
Many thanks to Kiran for organising the Netstorms tutors Christmas dinner at Westfield Pizza Express on Tuesday (and for surprising us all by paying the bill).
Spike, Ahad, Baavi and Kiran had all been members of the NYPO project before working with me as tutors and Tammana has been an excellent addition as a tutor on Summer School courses. I’m really glad to have maintained friendships with these and other young colleagues and and former project members and I hope we can continue to work together in future and build on work done in the past. Those tutors and former NYPO members who are not already my FB friends are invited to connect on FB. I also invite people to help me create a space for professional, political and philosophical discussion on my http://netstorms.org website – Thanks Tammana for joining.
I think we need many online spaces for discussion and collaboration and networks of these networks. Education is about more than running courses, it is also about creating social, physical and virtual environments that support learning; environments that learners and teachers can explore and co-create, environments in which those roles can be interchangeable.
These are some very brief notes on the EDDC Consultation meeting held at Eastlea School on 18th November.
Led by Graham Ogunleye and Gaston Campbell, the meeting brought together people working in the fields of technology, education and commerce to an initial discussion on the EDDC project.
Bringing people from diverse backgrounds together was itself useful as there was productive networking/discussion among participants before Graham and Gaston’s presentation.
Graham outlined the key purpose of the EDDC as being to stimulate interest among young people and adults in key aspects of digital design.
Graham outlined the hardware and software that was available for the project and a tour of the school after the meeting further underlined the Eastlea’s capacity to be a technology hub for the community.
The EDDC is intended as a space that allows providers to:
* Craft and test new programmes
* Network with key industry and acedemic experts
* Access local schools
* Use a well resourced venue in agreed time slots
* Organise branded and bespoke events
* Document participation via video and the web
Graham and Gaston emphasised that they were throwing the facility open to potential providers who were being invited to propose programmes, events and courses. The school has no plan to pay providers for specific programmes, rather they are offering the resources and opportunity to develop and run these programmes. Payment for specific courses is not, however, precluded if they benefits the schools curriculum needs.
In discussion it was noted that the school would be looking for tangible, accredited, outcomes in proposals for longer courses but that shorter, taster, courses and events would not have these requirements. There was some discussion on the relative value of compenencies and qualifications for employers.
Graham and Gaston said that they would make slides from the presentation available online at the EDDC website. EDDC programmes are expected to start from January 2015. Participants in the consultation meeting and other interested parties are invited to continue discussing this and making a contribution on the EDDC forum. The forum can be accessed after registering on the website.