Inequalities hurt economy, but hurt democracy more

VERY telling, if somewhat predictable is the cartoon by Steve Bell in The Guardian newspaper with David Cameron putting Magna Carta to what can only be described as the use for which it was not intended while a rather disconcertingly ‘We are amused’ Royal Family looks on. Magna Carta, the caption reassuringly intones, is ‘soft, strong and surprisingly long’.

Steve Bell 12.06.15

Telling, I say, because our Prime Minister’s real view of Human Rights could not be more clearly put; because the irony of the heads of both the Monarchy and Parliament jointly celebrating what was (later, on television) described as ‘the second-most damaging event in history for the British monarchy’ was in the main studiously sidestepped; because the looks of self-satisfied cunning being exchanged in Monday’s cartoon ought to shock us, but just don’t, anymore.

Predictable, of course, because this was Steve Bell in The Venerable Grauniad.

You won’t have been able to avoid the coverage of the official celebration on Monday 15 June marking 800 years since Magna Carta was ‘signed’. I’ll let you disentangle truth from fiction via a brief selection of excellent articles.

@AndrewMarr9 writes in Intelligent Life magazine on ‘Why has Magna Carta lasted?

The Guardian newspaper published a range of news and views. ‘The Magic of Myth‘ is a great place to start.

Closer to home CommonSpace the excellent news service from the think-and-do-tank Common Weal provides this thoughtful analysis ‘History is written by the winners – what is the real story of Magna Carta?’ by @Ben_Wray1989

For a detailed straight-up socialist perspective head over to the World Socialist Website to read Richard Hoffman’s and Mike Head’s ‘The Magna Carta and Democratic Rights‘.

then you tell me if Magna Carta shaped our modern democracies, or even slightly narrowed inequality.


IN some sense (whatever your view above) a successor to Magna Carta, The Universal Declaration of Human Rights (abbreviated) ensures our right to Participate (in Government and in Free Elections – article 21; and in the Cultural Life of the Community – article 27) Now the Scottish Government is working to make these rights clear and present in the form of Scotland’s forward-thinking Community Empowerment Bill. The Bill returns to the Scottish Parliament chamber on Wednesday 17 June to be debated line-by-line from about 1415, and is due to be voted on at around 1900. If this Bill is passed – and there is no apparent reason why it should not – it is liable to become a beacon of best practice to the world.

Take a look at the Bill (as amended), and a Marshalled list of amendments (to be debated in the Parliament chamber) for the detail.

Indeed a fresh, new perspective on the relationship between citizen and State, the people and our Government, lies at the heart of something called ‘The Scottish Approach’. Recently discussed during Participation Week, this way of working combines the powerful triplet of CoProduction, an Assets Approach, and Improvement Science in a creative mix that puts people first.

Participation Week is now over (for this year), but the hashtag #WorkTogether15, the @WorkTogether15 handle and this event description might help paint a picture for you.

CoProduction has been described as ‘working with rather than doing to’; the Asssets Approach values people for the strengths we bring rather than seeing us as ‘bundles of needs’; and Improvement Science encourages creative experimentation, learning from failure, and supporting small and localised solutions to become embedded system-wide.

In the world of Public Service Reform it’s a paradigm shift founded on a powerful combination of mutually supportive models. And it’s coming to a street near You!



THIS way of working explicitly puts people first, and is built upon the strengths and the human capital we bring to the party. Wherever people are valued, social inequalities are deeply damaging. This is in no small measure why Hillary Clinton’s New York ‘launch’ of her bid for the US Presidency featured the dangers of inequality so strongly. And she’s not alone in calling out inequality as the ‘everyone loses’ policy option:

CNBC reports on the Boston Consulting Groups’ Global Wealth study, making sure that everyone gets a chance to consider the statistic that today, millionaires control 41% of global personal wealth – and that by 2019 that figure will be 46%. Nearly half the world’s personal wealth, concentrated only in the hands of the world’s millionaires.

Simultaneously, the International Monetary Fund reports that income and wealth inequalities the defining challenge of our time. ‘Pay low-income families more to boost economic growth‘ reports The Guardian. More than just a whiff of Basic Income, a powerful idea of which more another day.


SMALL wonder, then, that the news that you must be ‘posh’ to succeed in Britain got everyone so hot under the collar.

Top firms’ ‘poshness test’ imposes class ceiling ( paywall)

Top firms ‘use poshness test to keep poor out of best jobs’ (

‘Poshness tests’ block working-class applicants at top companies (





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