As there were some new faces it was an ideal opportunity to explain what the Agenda is and what it is not. With new readers to this blog all the time, this is an ideal opportunity to explain the same here:
- It’s a movement, not a party
- It seeks supporters, it is not a membership organisation
- It is not issue based, save the implementation of truly democratic structures
- It seeks to bring about change from outside the ‘system’, not get entangled within the system and its diversionary intrigues
- It has revolutionary ambition, but in the classical sense of bringing about significant change from status quo
- It is non-violent, its campaigning may necessitate civil disobedience at times but that’s all.
- And finally it is uncompromising, it will hold true to the 6 Demands and not dilute them or be taken off at a tangent.
There we have it. The Harrogate Agenda is not about remedying specific current issues, such as wind turbines, planning matters or taxation. But what Agenda seeks to do is bring about structural change that empowers people, so issues such as those can be resolved or prevented from ever becoming an irritant in the first place. The focus of the movement is empowerment, through a new and truly democratic framework, where nothing can come about or stand without the consent of the people.
As a concept it will be difficult for some people to come to terms with, as they are used to expressing their dissent through tightly targeted protest, which almost always burns out having failed to achieve its objectives after a comparatively few fleeting moments of media attention.
But experience shows that the ruling class, with its top-down approach to decision making and its laughably dictatorial system of ‘guided democracy’ can easily brush aside such complaint because the people don’t have structures that empower them and ensure bottom-up decision making.
It’s helpful to think, therefore, of the 6 Demands as ‘enablers’. While some of the points may appear narrow in themselves because they do not tackle specific issues people rail against today, the scope of empowerment the demands would deliver would bring about the conditions that allow for wider and more complex issues to be tackled and overcome. The people would decide how they wish to be governed and the executive would carry out instructions rather than give them.
Moving on, the attendees saw the premieres of two short films. The first deals with the anti-democratic nature of governance in this country and underlines the need for the type of change The Harrogate Agenda is seeking, including the devolution of power to the local level. The second examines how Norway thrives outside the European Union, underlining the global nature of rules and directives and demonstrating the UK’s membership of the EU, which while incompatible with the concept of democracy and civil empowerment in any case, prevents this country from being at the top table, wielding influence and formulating decisions.
Both films will soon be available to buy (to cover the costs of making them, which was significant), with trailers soon appearing on YouTube.
The next workshops will focus on each of the demands in more detail, helping supporters to understand the concepts and be able to articulate them to new people effectively, something that is essential if the movement is to grow and the message is to take hold. This is a vital ‘level set’ to ensure supporters all have the same depth of knowledge and can engage with people in a confident manner.
The movements of the past that have been most effective in advancing their revolutionary thinking have all taken time to develop. They have ensured they have an intellectual base and forms of revenue that fund further development and campaigning. That is why the ‘placard protest’ model is unsuitable. That is why Harrogate may seem to be taking time to make a difference. But once the ducks are in a row and there is an informed and engaged supporter base carrying the message to more and more people, Harrogate will show itself to be a movement that has longevity and the capacity to drive a real transformation in the way the British people are governed, and most crucially, by whom.