First draft motion to Green Party Conference 2012: to invite the Social Democratic Party and Cooperative Party to a dialogue on common core values and philosophical foundations

Motion: I propose that this conference should resolve to invite the Social Democratic Party and the Cooperative Party, currently merged or in alliances with the Liberal Democrats and Labour parties, to an open dialogue with us on what core values we hold in common and whether we could negotiate towards an expression of our core values essentially in unity and enough to form a new alliance, without any party having to compromise on our core values.

The motion before you today is only at this stage that we should invite the SDP and Cooperative parties to an open dialogue, to thresh the issues in an open meeting and discern whether an alliance might be the right way ahead.

If the dialogue leads to a shared draft consultation document, then we would bring this back to the next party Conference next year, allowing two years and a further party conference for all our members to fully consider detailed issues or difficulties in the draft consultation document to renew our Core Values and Philosophical Basis texts from scratch.

If this draft is acceptable to the membership of our party and the memberships of the SDP and Cooperative parties, then we might hope to ask Conference 2015 for final approval on a new textual formulation of our Core Values and Philosophical Basis documents.

If we collectively felt an alliance would be the right thing, we would most probably retain distinctive Philosophical Basis documents in each party in the possible alliance, and we could also retain Core Values expressions with distinctive but compatible emphases, or we could end up finding ourselves so surprisingly close in values and philosophy that we might wish to have one Core Values formula and different party philosophical workings out of it, or one set of Core Values and Philosophical Basis (or equivalent title) documents shared between all three parties in the possible alliance.

None of these possibilities are predetermined in the current proposal: it is only a proposal to open a dialogue with our closest natural political allies with open minds and see where it leads us, or if it leads us anywhere at all.

The timeframe for this ultimate hope of a Green-Social-Democratic-Cooperative alliance would ideally be the next General Election 2015, but if the process requires more time then I believe it would be worthwhile even it runs over into another election cycle.

The present motion is meant in the context of hoping an alliance might be possible, but I do not mean to propose that we definitely should aim for an alliance with the SDP and Co-operative parties at this stage, and definitely not any compromise in our values, but at this stage only asking for this Conference’s authorization to open a dialogue with our nearest natural political allies, who are both in dire political straits in their current alliances as the LibDems and in the Labour party, on the understanding that it could be of great mutual benefit, and not just for our parties.


Social Liberal Forum, a campaigning organisation within the LibDems representing the Social Liberal part of the LibDem alliance – this is a long-ish article on their values and identity:

Green Liberal Democrats -one of the official organisations within the LibDem party:

Co-operative Party 2010 General Election manifesto –

Compare with Green Party documents:

Core Values

Philosophical Basis

Compare ‘Threshing Meeting’ :


First Draft Formulation of a Combined and Variable Interest and Demurrage Social & Environmental Impact Linked Taxation System

(I wrote this Nov 11, five months before the post on the same topic below, and I used subscript characters which wordpress doesn’t seem to accept, so if you find the formatting confusing because the subscripts have been lost, please see this googledoc version:

General formula of compound interest:
T = P (1 + r/ 100)n
(T is total, P is principal, r is rate, n is number of years.)

General formula for the proposed interest + demurrage system:
T = P (1 + ri/ 100)n + (1 – rd/ 100)n

Variable rates of interest and demurrage

To distinguish interest (1 + ri/ 100)n and demurrage (1 – rd/ 100)n
ri and rd are the rate of interest and the rate of demurrage respectively

ri1, ri2, ri3 etc. and rd1, rd2, rd3 signify different rates of interest and demurrage linked to different grades of social and ecological net cost-benefit or impact.

Daily accounting of interest and demurrage
T = P (1 + ri/ 100 x 365)n + 365 + (1 – rd/ 100 x 365)n + 365


Some investments or deposits are socially and ecologically beneficial, i.e. in terms of the real (or natural) economy, they have benefits, or profits, to society and the ecosystem as a whole. These positive balances may be incentivised by society by the payment of interest.

All investments or deposits are also socially and ecologically costly to a greater or lesser extent, since the money system itself incurs costs, and accumulating rather than circulating money causes inflation, which tends to affect those on lower incomes more than those in higher incomes and to impact on investment in long-term, pro-social and pro-environmental enterprises more than on short-term enterprises primarily for individual and private gain.

Therefore, the costs and benefits of holding and spending money can in principle be calculated for every condition of any account (or company balance sheet) in question, and in general all accounts in this system would have both an interest and a demurrage rate, each of which may be equal to or greater than zero.

For example, for accounts which are being held and have on balance a greater social and ecological benefit (profit) than their costs, the sum of interest and demurrage rates will be a net positive, i.e. it will effectively bear interest.

On the other hand, where an account being held has on balance greater social and environmental costs than benefits, then the sum of interest and demurrage rates will be a net negative, i.e. it will effectively be subject to demurrage.

Further, the rates ri and rd can be further distinguished into their real economic factors and categorised so that we will have ri1, ri2, ri3 etc. and rd1, rd2, rd3 to signify different categories of social and ecological profitability and costliness. Effectively, the higher rates of ri (let us say ri2, ri3 represent higher rates than ri1) will be analogous in function with the CITR (Community Investor Tax Relief) and CDFI (Community Developing Finance Initiative) funds; and conversely, the higher rates of rd will function analogously to the different tax brackets of a conventional progressive taxation system, but here ‘high net worth’ individuals and companies would be able to invest in socially and environmentally beneficial enterprises with a net interest rate and effectively without ‘tax’ (in the form of demurrage), because the demurrage rate set by HMRC or the BoE Monetary Policy Committee (it would be similar to the BoE Base Rate, but for demurrage) would be lower than the maximum interest rate also set by HMRC and-or the BoE MPC, on account of their net positive social & environmental impact grading.

In other words, this system could eliminate the need for all other, more complicated, therefore easier to avoid and more costly to administer forms of progressive taxation, and it would be incontrovertibly fairer, because the rates of interest and rates of demurrage would be directly linked to the Social & Environmental Impact quantitative reporting figures in the bank’s or other financial service provider’s annual report, in a strengthened form of the annual company return that is already required by law to be filed with the FSA or Companies House.

There would thus be no arbitrariness in the rates of taxation, and no grounds for accusations of unfairness or party-political arguments over changes in rates of interest and demurrage. Effectively, the rates of interest and demurrage-taxation charged by HMRC under the direction of the BoE Monetary Policy Committee would treat our society as a Mutual Co-operative, where there is no surplus that is not immediately in the same year re-invested in the membership community.

A suggestion how to combine full cost accounting and mutual credit systems with demurrage, to design a monetary paradigm to fulfill expectations of natural justice and sustainability

I want to suggest the principles and practical outline of a specific method I think could possibly work -a government-backed, federal, mutual credit currency (, interchangeable without exchange costs between local currencies and, perhaps later, federally between national mutual credit currencies, to be a positive kind of competition with the conventional fiat fractional-reserve, interest-bearing currencies which are 97% created by private banks’ lending. Mutual credit currencies are anti-inflationary (compare the Wundr von Worgle experiment in 1930s Austria, there are more recent examples but using a historical one is less politically controversial and relatively more objective) and demurrage on capital assets is considered to incentivise long-term investment better than interest from lending alone.

I suggested that such a national or federal mutual credit currency could implement a tax system integrated into the base rate of interest and combined with a base rate of demurrage, operated by the central bank, both variable and the combined rates linked to a grading of social & environmental cost-benefit impact based on a standard statutory methodology for evaluating social & environmental cost-benefit impact of any business or investment instrument, with mandatory independent auditing for companies over a threshold size, as a sort of massively beefed-up version of the Corporate Social Responsibility section of the Annual Report already established by law in the Companies Act 2006. (The idea of massively beefing-up the CSR section of companies mandatory annual reporting was apparently the top priority of the Danish government when they took over the presidency of the Council of the EU (according to a Radio4 program I heard, possibly further info could be found on

Combined variable central bank base-rates of interest and demurrage would mean companies could be taxed more discriminately on their own social & environmental impacts and internalise their ‘externalities’ into their budget sheets, in principle as much as possible in direct proportion to the actual full (i.e. global & long-term) costs and benefits for society and the environment, based on their own reporting, which would have to follow a standard basic method of accounting and be independently audited if they’re over the usual threshold of >£5m turnover.

In addition, demurrage could be charged on transactions based on both distance in time and distance geographically based on postcodes, which would be feasible since since most (97%) of transactions now are electronic anyway. This would have the effects of incentivising re-localisation of supply and demand, and incentivising investment in long-term development over short-term speculation, because the social cost of holding concentrated capital assets would be accounted for in the demurrage-based tax system. We could even include a quantitative evaluation of the indirect costs of excessive socio-economic inequality (socio-economic inequality correlates strongly with increases in all social problems (except suicide), as shown in The Spirit Level) as one of the factors in setting the variable, progressive demurrage rates on capital assets.

The other major advantage of government establishing a complimentary mutual credit currency nationally or in a federal way providing infrastructure for linking up local, regional or national complimentary mutual credit currency systems, would be that it would enable governments to escape from regulatory capture by the financial sector, which overall on average has become more harmful than functional at present.

I’m still interested in detailed feedback on whether you think this could actually work in principle and in practice. However, I only want to accept as premises natural realities and explicit principles of what a monetary economic system should be expected to do. I don’t want to judge new paradigm proposals for better, more functional monetary systems according to the old paradigm of orthodox economic dogmas of ‘rationality’ (defined in terms of maximisation not optimisation), selfishness (the conventional narrow definition, not HH Dalai Lama’s concept of ‘enlightened self-interest’ which is equivalent to universal compassion!), automatic equilibrium (that monetary market systems automatically self-regulate in the same way as markets in real, natural goods & services do -(the three orthodox economic dogmas identified by Prof Steve Keen in ‘Debunking Economics’), nor the fourth orthodox economic doctrine that ‘there is not enough to go around’ -this is a logical consequence of the dogmas of rationality in terms of maximisation and narrowly defined selfishness, but I think it’s worth distinguishing for practical reasons, to emphasise that it is a moral choice or assumption, it is not a purely ‘objective’ finding of ‘economic science’ as it is claimed to be.

For certain, we have limited resources, there is natural scarcity, but scarcity does not have to mean a competitive ‘struggle for existence’ within our societies (in fact that could be considered the anti-thesis of social living), it is equally logically possible to conclude that having limited resources means we have to find efficient ways of making what we’ve got go around so that everyone has enough or we make the best of what we’ve got collectively. I’d like to call this Enough economics! (Optimisation rather than maximisation also means that sometimes the rationally ‘best’ outcome is to leave some resources alone: e.g. nature reserves, leisure time.)

‘Enough’ (Thai: por dee) reminds me of a story from my monastic days in NE Thailand, when the founder of our monastery, Ajahn Chah, back in the days when it was first started as just a group of monks living under umbrellas with mosquito nets on the forest floor in the village charnel ground, when they sometimes had very scarce food donations on almsround. One day the whole monastic community on almsround only received one small banana between all of them -it happened to be given to Ajahn Chah because he was the most senior monk at the front of the line of monks on almsround (there were times in the 70s when the Isarn region of Thailand was so poor due to the anti-Communist wars going on mostly in bordering Laos and Vietnam but also some ‘anti-insurgency’ over the Thai border in Isarn, which is culturally more part of Laos, that this wasn’t stinginess, the villagers probably were nearly starving too). To some of the monks’ surprise, instead of keeping the one banana for himself, Ajahn Chah asked his attendant monk to fetch a clean razor blade, and cut it up into tiny slices and served it around the whole monastic community. They may only have one banana for the day, but they would make it enough.

We actually have far more than one banana, as a whole global human society we probably have plenty more than enough for everyone to live in peaceful prosperity -but not wasteful or careless extravagance, or with intuitively nonsensical accumulations of merely notional, artificial monetary capital that effectively means political power over democratic governments and central banks, not a measure of access to real resources. The ‘economic crisis’ since 2008 is really a monetary economic crisis, not a crisis in the real economy of natural resources and labour. We still have more than enough natural resources to work our way out of the near ecological collapse situation we’ve got ourselves into and enough labour to do all the work that needs doing around our societies and around our countries. When there is work that needs doing and people willing and able to do it but no ‘money’, clearly we have a dysfunctional monetary system.

The ‘assumption of scarcity’ concept needs modifying -yes there are natural limited resources, but it is our choice whether we design a system based on the belief we have enough for everyone or we will make what we have go around everyone somehow so everyone has at least enough to be healthy, reasonably comfortable, socially happy and content, but not as much as they want for sensuous indulgence so much that others’ cannot possibly even have enough, instead of the concept of scarcity being taken to mean that zero-sum interactions of winners and losers are a natural, automatic inevitability. Zero-sum winner-loser economic interactions of exploitation are indeed the traditional status quo in global economic interactions, but there is nothing ‘necessary and unavoidable’ (Cameron) about it.

Imagine an economic system and culture based on the beliefs ‘we have enough’, ‘we should make the best of what we have’, ‘mutualistic win-win economic interactions are better for me in the long-term, because we are so inter-dependent I cannot exploit my neighbour without it impacting on me’. Imagine monetary systems intrinsically designed  to reflect natural realities and our social values as directly as possible. If you can imagine such radical and total systemic changes in our culture, then imagine please what it would feel like to live in such a society, and in such a world. The choice between old and new paradigms is rational up to a point but ultimately it is an emotional or moral decision.  

Reducing tax evasion and avoidance, some anthropological comparisons

Today I read again, and thought these are the kind of proposals the Occupy movement should publicise and explain on the street with flipcharts under streetlamps.

Tax evasion and avoidance are obvious cases of free-riding on co-operative societies -aka. the ‘fundamental problem of social life’. Even in a simple game theory model, a stable co-operative social system can establish itself if there are sanctions (survival or reproductive costs) on free-riders and sanctions on those who refuse to punish free-riders. You need both for the system to be stable. 

Is that one of the key problems with the Age of Enlightenment idea of the Nation-State? -i.e. alienating the right to use legitimate force to enforce social norms from citizens to the state discourages the second-order public good of punishing free-riders directly and immediately, so even IF the state punishes ‘egregious and aggressive examples’ of free-riding in terms of tax evasion and avoidance (which it is inherently unlikely to do), it is obviously far less naturally efficient than the innate, universal mechanisms of immediate sanctioning of free-riding – i) gossip (also observed with a similar function in *female* chimpanzees), ii) public ridicule, iii) moral shunning and finally iv) total social and economic ostracism (refusal of commensality). 

We can still do all four of these direct, immediate mechanisms of social sanctioning of free-riders in modern, large complex societies: 

i) Gossip (that’s exponentially more efficient now we have the internet), 

ii) Public ridicule -political comedy is one of the most powerful forms of peaceful protest -Have I Got News For You etc. is part of this, and so are comedic forms of protesting on the streets.

iii) Moral shunning -this is already happening on an individual level, gradually more people are choosing to do business with more socially responsible companies and avoid the tax-avoiders where possible -but we’re lacking a society-wide organisation to co-ordinate this process, probably because the ‘Church’ or equivalent functional social organisations have not caught up with modernity yet and historically as a society we’re still feeling once burnt twice shy about organised religion. 

iv) Total social and economic ostracism -we don’t yet have this level of ostracism in modern societies, it’s getting too close for comfort to the citizen’s right to use force, because the subjects of complete ostracism in the ancestral human environment would usually die of starvation or exposure, and in medieval history the stage of ‘vitandi excommunicando’ -an excommunicant to be despised and avoided, by order of the Church- was traditionally associated with the civil authorities then burning them at the stake. (I have some sympathies with that approach, but it certainly isn’t going to catch on now, and overall that’s probably a good thing!) –

The nearest thing I’ve seen so far to the ancestral sanctioning mechanism of total social and economic ostracism is Carrot -a collective consumer negotiating network, which aims to wield coordinated co-operative consumer spending power to incentivize companies with good business ethics and correspondingly (but not emphasising this aspect) punish those with bad business ethics. Carrot Mob is not yet known widely in the UK, but it’s growing in the USA.

Full cost accounting, the design of money, and crowd-funding

Today had a bumper crop of amazingly good articles getting more widespread publicity at long last.

Getting the Market to Tell Ecological Truths
by Lester Brown

One of the shocking conclusions of this article is that the full cost of a litre of petrol -when you account for indirect and long-term consequential costs, “including climate change, oil industry tax breaks, military protection of the oil supply, oil industry subsidies, oil spills, and treatment of auto exhaust-related respiratory illnesses” -estimated at 12 U.S. dollars per Imperial gallon = 1.66 British pounds per litre, then the full cost of petrol is around £2.84/l! (when market price is reckoned as £1.28/l, before the recent price shock due to the strike threat)


What’s all the fuzz about money?
Debt-free money may well be the solution to restoring a sane monetary system.

Comment on Al-Jazeera article by Positive Money:

“What if money itself needed to be changed? This is not a debate about the financial system per se, but actually an argument about the intrinsic “design” of money.

But, isn’t money just money? No, it isn’t, and paradoxically, though the debates precedes its emergence, the internet played a big role in teaching us a new truth: Money is designed, and that design matters.

Today though, money creation has become a largely private affair. Not only is government money created through debt, but most money in circulation is also created through the leveraging of banks. Most of the money is lent into existence and thus essentially created by private banks in a system of generalised compound interest.”

Communities urged to ‘crowd fund’ green energy schemes

Crowd-funding (historically known as co-operative finance) is an alternative to the need for accumulation of capital through interest-bearing lending as a pre-condition of capital investment in development.

As I’ve been waffling on about for a couple of years, yes a certain amount of concentration of capital is necessary to get worthwhile but initially expensive innovative development projects going, and traditionally that’s through private ownership of vast accumulations of capital acquired through the design of the monetary system being based on interest-bearing debts, but now we have the technology (internet and mobile phones for instant digital payments) quite suddenly co-operative finance or ‘crowd-sourcing’ -retaining democratic control of capital in the most directly, genuinely ‘free’ market way possible, becomes exponentially more feasible.

As soon as it’s taken up, because it’s intrinsically likely to be more cost-effective for society as a whole to use crowd-funding instead of older mechanisms of concentrating capital resources, it’s likely to evolve and invade the finance markets and -hopefully- become an ESS (evolutionary stable strategy) pretty damn quick, please!

(Btw, I think EnergyShare was brokered by Triodos Investment Management. Another Hooray please for Triodos!)

A letter from inside the student Occupation of Senate House (Bristol, December 2010)

Solidarity Letter

This is an open letter from a member of the Occupation written from inside but not on behalf of the whole Occupation group; we hope many members will also write from their own perspectives. The Occupation in general is about protesting the proposed cuts in education and raising the cap on tuition fees.

We consider peaceful direct action in the form of an Occupation to be reasonable and proportionate in the context of the overwhelming power imbalance we are attempting to negotiate with and the unwillingness to take seriously our objections before. The Occupation is taking very good care of the Senate Room, to avoid detracting from the credibility of our protest message.

We acknowledge that some aspects of the proposed changes, particularly increasing the threshold at which loan repayments will start after graduation are fairer (if they are actually maintained*), but we strongly object to the cuts in funding for university teaching staff and the doubling or tripling of tuition fees.

We deplore the poor level of consultation with academics and students before the Browne Review. Academics tend to be intelligent, socially responsible and have in depth knowledge of the education industry. To consult a disgraced former CEO of BP ahead of academics about economic reform of their own industry shows the nature of the government’s intentions.

We question where £9k/yr for tuition fees would be spent on Arts courses which currently have typically 4-8 contact hours per week, and with the proposed 80% cuts in teaching budgets we believe the argument for value for money for even fewer contact hours at £9k/yr is laughable. If students are to be asked to pay so much, it would be more appropriate to start by setting out what they would be paying for, but the government plans to debate and vote on plans to legislate on value for money much later down the line.

Plenty of better practical alternatives to cuts have been proposed; the simplest of which would be cutting tax avoidance by transnational corporations and the super-rich who use offshore tax havens to avoid approximately £120bn/yr of UK Corporation and Income taxes. By comparison, the cuts in higher education funding are a tiny proportion (about a tenth?). ‘Death and Taxes’ are supposed to be the two universal certainties, but for the super-rich taxation is effectively optional now.

Positive Money and the New Economics Foundation have proposed detailed plans for radical reform of the banking system, which would make all the cuts in public spending unnecessary and prevent future monetary collapses.

The public deficit was caused by the fundamental structural design of the banking system which takes profits privately but intrinsically depends on implicit public underwriting and periodic bailouts, and as a private business according to Free Market doctrine regards itself as only accountable to its shareholders and not responsible to the public interest. The banking crisis was not caused just by incidental abuses of the system, but because the banking system itself is fundamentally not fit for purpose. The essential corruption of the banking system and over-spending on aggressive militarism is to blame for the public deficit, not education or overspending on public services in general. The Tory-led coalition chooses to emphasise cheating on the social welfare system, but in fact tax avoidance by mega-corporations and the super-rich costs the Treasury fifteen times more in lost revenue per year. The real productive economy depends on education and public health, so cutting funding for education and moving towards privatization of the NHS at this point, is economically a nonsensical response.

Again, the timing reveals the rhetorical nonsense in the government’s position in that the increase in revenue from student loan repayments will only start from 2016, when the Treasury expects economic growth to have returned anyway. *With regards to the timing of the change in loan repayment structure effective in 2016, some economists are already suggesting that the repayment threshold of £21,000pa is not sustainable in the context of the government’s budget, and is likely to be returned to the current £15,000pa threshold.

The student occupation believes that the government’s cuts in funding for higher education are not really a matter of practical necessity at all, but are ideologically motivated- especially the targeted cuts against the Arts and Social Sciences, which tend to be more socially concerned subjects.

We are all familiar with everyday examples of how privatized services, e.g. the trains and the extortionately expensive privately run cafe in our university library, are almost always far more expensive and inefficient in the end than the same services provided by public funding or cooperative businesses. We oppose the marketisation of higher education in principle and we believe there is more to education than the economic aspect: education brings out the best in people, as full human beings, not only as workers in a corporate hierarchy.

We believe the commodification of education presumes a competitive, hierarchical view of human nature and culturally leads to the disintegration of society as a moral community, it also increases the already extreme level of social inequality in the UK –the UK ranks around 63rd in UN GINI Index of social inequality, and this social inequality has been proved empirically (The Spirit Level) to be the primary cause of most social problems, rather than absolute wealth or poverty. The Nordic countries have the lowest social inequality in the world (besides Japan) as well as the highest levels of public funding for education, and consequently have the highest UN HDI rankings of public health and happiness.

The public spending cuts in general, and particularly the cuts in higher education funding and the tripling in tuition fees, have been proved to be disproportionately against the poor, and will increase barriers to social mobility.

We believe that any action against a part of our society is an attack on all of us. The overwhelming evidence presented in The Spirit Level: why more equal societies almost always do better proves that increasing social inequality is harmful for our whole society and actually harmful for all income strata, not only the poor.

Tuition fees of £9k/yr plus maintenance loan of around £3500 means students from 2011 will be graduating with at least £30,000 debt before they start to try to afford a mortgage for a family home. Students on five year courses such as Medicine and Veterinary Science will graduate with at least £50,000 debt. With house prices in the UK so extremely high compared to the rest of Europe, probably due to the banks’ parasitic speculative profiteering rather than real economic factors, this means the next generation is hardly going to be able to afford to bring up offspring in a home fit for a family, unless the older generation gives up something. The degree of hierarchy between generations, like in WW1, is at the point of becoming self-destructive from the point of view of survival of human society.

We call on all Lib Dem MPs who pledged before the election to vote against any rise in tuition fees to honour their promises to their constituency electors or resign. Abstaining will do nothing to swing the vote and would still be a direct violation of the trust bestowed in them by their constituencies. MPs primary responsibility is to represent their electors in their constituency, not loyalty to their political party.

Hum Dekhen Ge

Hum Dekhen Ge – We Shall See the Day.

(by Ahmad Faiz Ahmad, famously sung by Iqbal Bano in a protest against Faiz’s arrest on politically motivated charges )

It is certain that we shall see,
the day that has been promised,
that has been written of in the Book of Ages:

When the enormous mountains of tyranny
shall blow away like cotton,
Under the feet of the poor and oppressed,
the earth will tremble like thunder
And on the heads of tyrants,
lightning will strike.

We shall see the day.

From the Mosque, the Palace of God
the idols of insincerity will be taken out,
and the faithful who have been cast out as heretics
will be seated on high.
All crowns will be snatched back by the hand of God,
And all thrones will be overturned.

We shall see the day.

Only the Name will survive
Who cannot be seen but is also present
Who is both the seer and the seen;
‘I am the Truth’ – the cry will rise,
which is true for you and I,
and the creation of the Lord will rule
which is true for you and I.

We too shall see it,
It is certain that we too shall see the day,
We shall see the day.