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BY KATIE - MYGREENPOD, 01 May '15
The Festival of Democracy kicks off today
Reverend Billy and the Stop Shopping Choir – direct from New York – will kick off the 10-day occupation of Parliament Square from 5pm today as part of the Occupy Democracy Festival of Democracy.
The festivities will continue through the election period with engaging workshops, lively discussions, entertainment, direct democracy and creative direct actions.
‘Now the manifestos have been published we can see how little choice voters really have. Labour and the Tories have been stealing each other’s policies and on the big questions such as climate change, austerity and the secretive TTIP trade deal there is very little to distinguish between them.
‘There are alternatives on offer, but the archaic First Past The Post system means that votes for these parties do not translate effectively into political power.’
Occupy Democracy campaigners are inviting people to join them in front of the seat of our broken democracy – the Houses of Parliament – for 10 days to demand system change as opposed to regime change.
The six core demands are:
- Reform of party funding so that members of parliament act in the interests of those who elect them, rather than the 1% who bankroll them
- Major democratic reform of the media to break the stranglehold of vested interests
- A fundamental overhaul of lobbying and the way powerful economic interests inhabit the corridors of power within government
- The introduction of proportional representation so that everyone’s vote counts
- MPs should not have conflicts of interests from either paid employment or corporate shareholdings
- A citizen-led constitutional convention for real democracy
‘Democracy means more than putting a cross on a ballot paper every five years. History shows us that the extension of our democratic rights has not been led by politicians, but has been forced onto the agenda by the actions of mass movements such as the Chartists and the Suffragettes. We are asking people to join us and help build such a movement.’
Below is just a taster of what’s planned – visit the Occupy Democracy Facebook page to keep up to speed with what’s happening.
Fri 01 May: May Day!
In solidarity with workers of the world, Occupy Democracy launches its 10-day occupation of Parliament Square with Reverend Billy and the Stop Shopping Choir (5pm), John Hillary from War on Want (6pm) and entertainment from Rockin Paddy.
Sat 02 May: A more democratic system!
A day devoted to Occupy Democracy’s demands for proportional representation and a citizen-led constitutional convention, with a workshop on ‘commoning’ led by Commons Rising, games, a panel discussion on ‘How do we get proportional representation after the election’ with Jean Lambert MEP and a creative direct action at 1pm – Reclaim the Commons Guerrilla Gardens Flash Mob. Plus entertainment from award-winning political poet David Lee Morgan.
Sun 03 May: Free our democracy from corporate influence!
Occupy Democracy’s demand to end corporate lobbying and funding of political parties, with Tom Lines on the corporate lobbyists pushing for the secretive TTIP trade deal, panel discussions, a keynote speech from Tamasin Cave, director of Spinwatch and author of A Quiet Word: Lobbying, Crony Capitalism & Broken Politics in Britain, and entertainment from Irish poet Grassy Noel and friends.
Mon 04 May: Make politicians accountable!
Ridding politicians of vested interests and second jobs so they represent their constituents will be the focus of the day, while a direct action and a walking tour will focus on the pending climate crisis.
Occupy Gandhi (12pm) will be a peaceful direct action underneath the statue of Gandhi on Parliament Square, calling for criminalisation of fossil fuel exploration and investment.
Climate Change: The Elephant in the Polling Booth (2pm-6pm) is a walking tour with speakers – including Asad Rehman from Friends of the Earth, Suzanne Jeffery from One Million Climate Jobs and Mel Strckland from Reclaim The Power – plus creative action, looking at why tackling climate change requires system change.
Tues 05 May: Real media now!
Exploring Occupy Democracy’s demand for democratic reform of the media with Strike! magazine’s workshop on Subvertising and Brandalism (2pm), talks by Donnachadh McCarthy (author of The Prostitute State and founder of Occupy Rupert Murdoch, Kam Sandhu of Real Media, Tim Gospill of the Media Reform Coalition and Chris Hurd from The Bureau of Investigative Journalism before the first of three evenings of comedy with Bridget Christie, Gein’s Family Gift Shop, Heydon Prowse, Kiri Pritchard-McLean, Liam Williams, Goose, Bearda and Ahir Shah – if you aren’t laughing you’ll be crying.
Weds 06 May: Celebrating the resistance!
A day dedicated to learning about campaigns that have beaten the system, including speakers from UK Uncut, Disabled People Against Cuts, Save Lewisham Hospital and the Shell Out Sounds choir in a panel titled ‘How to Win’ (6pm).
Student occupiers from the recent UAL, LSE and Goldsmiths occupations will take to the square from 2pm for a skill-share session, followed by a talk by David Beetham author of Unelected Oligarchy – Corporate & Financial Dominance in Britain’s Democracy (5pm).
Thurs 07 May: Election Day!
To mark the election, learn about the history of democracy, with Chris Knight from the Radical Anthropology Group, Adam Ramsay of Open Democracy and others. Plus at 9pm Stand Up for Democracy! – the second of two nights of comedy with Bridget Christie, James Acaster, Iain Stirling, Joe Wells, Chris Coltrane and Liam Williams, followed by a musical performance by Ansuman Biswas (10pm).
Friday 08 May: There are alternatives!
A day to explore alternative systems happening in the UK, including Move Your Money and a workshop on Democracy and Revolution.
Sat 09 May: There are international alternatives!
A day to look at what alternative systems are happening across the globe, participatory sessions on What Can We Learn From Latin America?, lessons on democracy and anarchism from the Rojava Solidarity Network, and Campaign Against Arms Trade’s ‘Arms To Renewables’ campaign.
From 9pm there will be comedy from Goose, Beard, Emma Sidi, Ahir Shah, Chris Coltrane, Matt Highton, Matt Winning and Michael J Dolan, followed by spoken word from Mizan The Poet.
Sun 10 May: Where Next?
Let’s build an alternative system ourselves and talk about where next for Occupy Democracy. At 12pm David Whyte will discuss his recent book, How Corrupt is Britain?, and from 1pm there will be a participatory session on reimagining democracy and moving towards a citizens’ assembly on the constitution.
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