The purpose wasn’t just to analyse the problems, it was also to discover what we have in common and to discuss our common ground.
The groups included:-
- Faith Together in Lambeth (overcoming prejudice and ignorance of faiths)
- The Gandhi Foundation (non-violence and egalitarian economics)
- Lambeth Keep Our NHS Public (opposing privatisation of health care)
- R. M. T. Union, local group (trade union)
- South London Inter-faith Group (faith and multi-faith civic involvement)
- Streatham Power (not-for-profit renewable energy co-operative company)
- The Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition (anti-austerity)
Our first point of discussion was “Security” and what we thought it took to feel secure.
Anne-Marie from CAAT opened the meeting by giving us a breakdown of the UK’s current use and abuse of military spending. The discussion was very interesting and we agreed that it was excessive, wasteful and dangerous.
There was considerable anger that both main political parties have committed to spending vast sums of money on Trident renewal; billions of pounds that could be directed towards social justice and welfare.
We believe that the efforts that go into developing and exporting new weapons should be directed towards the reduction of carbon emissions and the slowing down of climate change.
- The development of Green Energy
- Secure adequately paid employment
- Increased understanding and tolerance of others
- A free and unbiased media
- Less surveillance of citizens
- Appropriate and adequate funding for the NHS
- Genuinely affordable homes
- Free education, so that all young people could fulfil their potential
None of these aspirations could be described as revolutionary. In 21st Century Britain it’s a shock that such things aren’t already firmly in place!
The final issue for us to consider was how best we could work together to promote the various issues we were campaigning for in the coming weeks before the election.
It wasn’t easy to make quick decisions on this as we were only representatives of our various groups.
The first step was the sharing of contact details, so that when each individual group was campaigning they could contact other groups for support.
It was also agreed that it would be good to march together as a Lambeth group on some of the larger National and London –wide rallies that are coming up.
We should use Social Media to make our voices heard because we cannot rely on the media in its current state, when mass killings in foreign lands get less coverage than Jeremy Clarkson throwing a punch.
What to do next? Well we need to act on these ideas; we need to remember what was said in that church hall when we plan our next small group action – and we’ll see where it goes.
On 28th March two of the groups from the meeting found themselves campaigning on Streatham High Road on the same day at the same time. Co-operation ensued. Lambeth Keep Our NHS Public was asking passers-by to fill in cards raising issues about healthy provision with local candidates. So the Trade Union and Socialist Coalition used their Public Address system to highlight NHS mismanagement by governments. That’s a first step!