John Mc Donnell hosted an economic conference on Saturday 11th November at Lincoln’s Bishop Grosseteste University. The event marked the 800th anniversary of the signing of the Charter of the Forest in Lincoln, which is home to one of the two surviving copies. The Charter was intended to ensure that people had access to the Commons – the cultural and natural resources available freely to everyone - for subsistence by guaranteeing commons rights to food and fuel.
Over the next few weeks the Labour Party New Economics webpage will be updated with a page on the Charter of the Forest conference at Lincoln. Further information on the workshops will be available on that page in early December.
The event formed part of a series of conferences that Labour’s Shadow Treasury team are organising around the country, hoping to broaden access and raise the level of debate around economic issues.
John addressed the conference on Labour’s plans to bring back key industries into public ownership. The conference also heard from Professor Guy Standing and local MP Karen Lee on co-operative ways of working, land ownership and the plunder of the commons.
Other speakers highlighted public ownership as a force for good and encouraged us to question the role that common ownership could play in achieving a democratic and effective economy.
Workshops focussed on
· The first workshop looked at public ownership and the Labour Party’s commitment to more democratic ownership structures to ensure our economy can deliver for the many not the few. The workshop focussed on Water, Rail and the Royal Mail and discussed how public ownership could deliver lower prices, more accountability, greater investment and a more sustainable economy.
· The second workshop looked at the role of co-operatives, social enterprises and self-organised groups and platforms in moving towards a new economy fit for the 21st Century. Europe has seen the emergence of a ‘commons movement’ with local people coming together to run social centres, town energy networks, and develop social platforms that mutually support workers
· The third workshop looked at new concepts of land ownership and government. The UK has some of the most concentrated land ownership in the western world, much of it shrouded in secrecy. The workshop explored how land ownership is both a key driver of inequality and a cause of degradation of natural resources.
Summing up, John invited Guy Standing to discuss a draft Charter of the Commons for the 21st Century. This well received by conference delegates.