Urban Agenda -- 21st Century Political Renewal


Reprinted w/permission-Washington Post Writers Group & the artist

Building a pro-city platform and Urban Agenda for the next Presidential campaign & locally.

Tuesday, April 05, 2005

Learning from the UK: The New Economics Foundation Election Manifesto

Today, the Guardian reports that Prime Minister Tony Blair set a date of May 5th, 2005 for the next election in the UK. (Keep up with the election in the UK by frequently checking this site.)

blair_howardMichael Howard, foreground, and Tony Blair, background.

I find the UK's "regeneration" (in the U.S. we call it revitalization) activities to be quite interesting, and the work of the Home Office, Deputy Prime Minister John Prescott, the various government agencies, and the Parliament and its various oversight committees (especially the oversight committee over the Deputy Prime Minister), and various organizations across the country to be incredibly useful resources.

England's New Economics Foundation does similar work (and more) to the New Rules Project in the U.S. NEF's Election Manifesto is yet another thing we can learn from:

20 ways to connect politicians with people and the planet

What should people demand from politicians they encounter during the general election? nef marks the launch of the campaign with 20 Proposals to question candidates about. They set out immediate steps an incoming government can take to reconnect economics with the needs of people and planet.

They are not the last word on what needs doing, but we recommend you ask any candidates you run across whether they will commit to these - and then tell us what they say:

1. COMMIT to new national 'well-being' accounts showing people's levels of happiness, sense of meaning and purpose, curiosity about life, and levels of trust and social well-being.

2. FORCE the World Bank and IMF to conform to the democratic standards and openness taken for granted at the national level, and to be consistent with their major shareholders' rhetoric on democracy and good governance.

3. GIVE veto powers to local communities over 'clone' retail chains and superstores, as they have in the USA.

4. ENHANCE local high streets, and prevent the spread of Clone Towns, by giving rate relief to locally-owned shops that contribute more to the fabric of the local community.

5. ENCOURAGE planning authorities to use Section 106 agreements to insist that at least 25 per cent of units in new retail developments be reserved for locally-owned stores.

6. REWARD companies that make a significant positive impact on their neighbourhood - for example, by sourcing local goods and services or employing locally - with an Enterprise and Regeneration Tax Credit.

7. MAKE sure that all public procurement decisions for deprived areas are subjected to the LM3 measure of how much money stays locally, so that public money contributes to job and wealth creation for local people.

8. INSIST that at least 50 per cent of food procured by local authorities and health trusts, for schools and hospitals, is fresh and sourced locally.

9. TACKLE monopolies by forcing corporate de-mergers, and acting to protect competition once any corporate dominates more than eight per cent of the national or any regional retail market (the official Office of Fair Trading limit at which the abuse of power occurs in retail markets).

10. GIVE company directors a specific duty of care for both communities and the environment - here and abroad - and a set of mandatory social, environmental and economic performance indicators for companies to report on.

11. CANCEL poor countries' unrepayable debts and introduce global taxes on air travel, natural resource extraction and international currency transactions to finance poverty reduction and protecting the environment.

12. CREATE a reliable new 'people's pension' sector that invests in local housing, health and education projects and reconnects local savings to vital local infrastructure.

13. DESIGNATE at least five per cent of land in regeneration areas as community land trusts, to underpin affordable housing, local shops and services, so that the benefits of local efforts remain in the area and do not get creamed off by developers..

14. REQUIRE all public agencies - from health centres to schools - to put in place systems, like time banks, that measure and reward clients as equal partners with professionals in the delivery of services.

15. CREATE a proper national conversation in the run-up to key decisions - like the referendum on the EU constitution - using deliberative methods like Democs and the People's Cafe'.

16. INSTITUTE a national maximum wage of 1 million pounds a year to reduce the greed of corporate fat cats and to complement the minimum wage.

17. LAUNCH trade sanctions against rich countries that subsidise their economies by failing to act on climate change, and who free-ride on nations that implementing the Kyoto Protocol - and put 'contraction and convergence' at the heart of the UK proposal for a global framework to stop climate change.

18. FREE projects, programmes and institutions from pointless performance targets set by central administrators, and require all government agencies to be focussed on the individual needs of their clients in the community.

19. ENCOURAGE new kinds of money, including a new currency for London, to meet local needs - supplemented by a new regular source of public money, issued debt-free and interest-free by the Bank of England, to invest in public capital projects.

20. PREVENT 'red-lining' - the practice where banks refuse to lend to poor neighbourhoods - by requiring them to reveal how much they are lending where.

Have your say... Let us know how the politicians that you questioned reacted by emailing us at nefmanifesto@neweconomics.org. Who were there and what did they have to say? Were they prepared to be connected to people and the planet? A selection of the responses will be published in the next edition of the nef e-letter.

Click here to see an up to date list of nef's publications

Click here to find out more about how you can help nef to build a new economy that works for people and the planet


  • At 8:41 PM, Blogger Urban Defender said…


    I have not had time to read all your BLOGS but a cursory scan reveals someone whose ideas and energy are of interest.

    In the past nine years I have been active in local community based groups in the St. Lawrence Neighbourhood in Toronto, both as a volunteer activist and most recently as the Executive Director (2002-2005) of the South East Downtown Economic Revitalization Initiative - www. sederi.ca - SEDERI. I had the pleasure of being the outside advisor and reader for a Masters candidate in Urban Planning at the University of Toronto who was interested in local employment revitalization (her paper is available at the SEDERI site as a PDF http://www.sederi.ca/pdf/Making%20it%20Happen-Success%20in%20Employment%20Revitilization.pdf?u=).

    And I have a new baby BLOG that for the time being is officially anonymous for a variety of reasons http://urbandefender.blogspot.com/.

    Once I ahve had time to read your posts with the attention they desrve it might be useful and fun to correspond.


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  • At 2:58 PM, Blogger Camdenbrick said…

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