The People’s Manifesto
In this his second interview with local activist, Chris Coverdale, HOT’s Sean O’ Shea talks to him about the People’s Manifesto for social change, the new politics, how people can become involved in transforming society and his life outside politics.
I believe that those who struggle may fail,
but those who do not struggle have already failed.
Malalai Joya MP, Afghanistan Parliament
Community activist, Chris Coverdale believes that Brexit provides us with a golden opportunity to change our outdated system of government in Britain and replace it with direct democracy: government of the people by the people for the people.
He believes that rather than suffer any longer under rules and regulations imposed on us by London and Brussels, we now have a great chance to end the wars, inequalities of wealth and power, homelessness, injustice, unemployment, waste, consumerism, racism, powerlessness and debt that have plagued us for so long – and replace them with new laws and rules to guarantee a fair, just, equitable, communitarian, truly democratic, peaceful society that values every individual and co-operates with every nation.
His view is that citizens should develop their own draft People’s Brexit Manifesto, which would specify the sort of society they want to live in, the new laws and rules that they want to enact to bring it about, and the terms and conditions to include in a new treaty with the people of Europe.
To find out more about this initiative and/or contribute your own ideas, you can contact Chris at: email@example.com
For information on similar initiatives being pursued nationally, see 38Degrees.People.Power.Change, www.38degrees.org.uk . This is a campaigning organisation of people in the UK working together to deepen democracy, defend fairness, protect rights, promote peace and preserve the planet.
SOS: The People’s Manifesto is an example of the ‘new politics’. Could you briefly describe the genesis of this initiative and summarise its main aims?
Brevity is always a problem for me, but I will do my best. My varied life experiences in the causes of human behaviour, cognitive science, systems thinking and community development, have led me to a new understanding of how to bring about behavioural change in society.
By identifying the underlying systemic causes of a problem rather than the presenting symptoms, it is possible to identify new rules, laws or systems that can transform groups, communities or a society instantaneously. In other words, we can change society by changing the rules.
So for example, we could bring a permanent end to war in Britain within ten minutes if the Queen took the right decisions. Under our current war making system it takes no more than two minutes for the Queen, as Commander-in-Chief, to sign the orders to HM Forces to go to war. Just as it takes two minutes to start a war, it takes two minutes to end it. So all it takes to end war is for the Monarch to give the command and every member of HM Forces must stop fighting, put down their weapons and return to base in Britain.
So the question we need to address is: “What will it take for the Commander in Chief (our Monarch) to sign an order to stop the bombing in Iraq and Syria, or refuse to sign any military order that is illegal?” Instead of automatically agreeing to Tony Blair’s illegal requests to wage war in Iraq and Afghanistan and David Cameron’s illegal requests to bomb Libya, Iraq and Syria, all the Queen had to say was: “No. I can’t sign these orders until you prove to me that Britain is under attack from the armed forces of another State and that our use of military force accords with the UN Charter, the UN Declaration on the Principles of International Law and the laws of war.”
If the Queen had refused to sign every illegal request to go to war since she came to the throne, and every prime minister and military commander had obeyed the laws of war and refused to transmit illegal commands to their subordinates, we would have avoided twenty three illegal wars and the unlawful killing of ten million men, women and children. So we can end our involvement in war in two minutes if we compel the Queen to refuse to wage illegal war.
The People’s Manifesto is an example of the same type of systemic engineering. If we want everyone to be properly and equitably housed, what we need to do is to pass new laws that will have these effects. So for example, a Rent and Mortgage Interest Restriction Act, restricting rents and mortgage interest payments to £10 per (living) room per month, would transform the housing market, cut house prices to pre WWII levels, increase the standard of living for the poorest 60% of the community and remove the need for housing benefit.
SOS: How can people become engaged in these projects?
We need local political activists and councils to set up and run projects / campaigns consulting local people on their requirements for change and using their responses to develop their own local People’s Brexit Manifesto, a Carta Populi, or People’s Magna Carta.
If we do this in Hastings we can make real progress towards direct democracy and transform the way we govern ourselves and contribute to the Government of Britain and Europe.
SOS: How do you envisage the ‘new politics’ unfolding in the coming months and years?
I believe that with the communication and consultation possibilities of the Internet, taken together with the changes in UK society provided by Brexit – and guided by local groups of activists – we can transform society in Britain within four years. There are about a dozen pieces of legislation that will, if they are enacted, have massive transformative effects on British society within weeks. It is our job to identify, formulate and enact these legislative rule-changes in such a manner that real and lasting changes to equality, justice, peace, the economy and community life are achieved by 2020.
SOS: You’ve incurred personal discomfort to the point of sacrificing your own freedom for the sake of your beliefs. What motivates you?
I suppose it is a deeply entrenched belief that I can make a difference. I realised that I have had a unique set of life experiences that have enabled me to understand how to engineer systemic change in society, but unless I get out there and put these into practice in the next few years, I won’t get another chance and my life may have been wasted. The quote at the head of this article and those below help motivate me when I feel down or depressed.
The silence of good people is worse than the actions of bad people.
Malalai Joya MP, Afghanistan Parliament
Death could very easily come now.
If I should meet it, it would not matter;
what matters is whether my living or dying
has had any effect on the lives of others.
Samad Behrangi, Iran
SOS: Do you have a life outside politics and what do you do to unwind?
I feel that at last I’ve got my work and home life reasonably balanced. I’ve recently met a woman in whose company I wish to spend the rest of my days. I try to spend an hour a day reading and keeping up to date on science, war law, philosophy, ethics, morals and politics and another hour a day viewing videos, documentaries and video blogs on the internet. I am a member of several groups and attend two or three political, philosophical, scientific and ethical meetings a week.
I also try to advise and help individuals grappling with the complexities of refusing to pay tax, charging leaders with war crimes or the mysteries of the British justice system. I write articles and letters associated with the antiwar movement for the Make War History website and I try to take regular exercise with walks in the country. All in all, I feel that I lead a full, interesting, sometimes controversial and often exhausting life. My hope is that it lasts long enough to have the desired effects on the system.
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