Community Activists Network
Equality NW Meeting Minutes
Friends Meeting House, Manchester 20th June 2012
Present: Philip Duval (Chair), Mike Cribb, Graham Whitham , Allan Wort, Maurice Barnes, Elizabeth Coleman, Ted Willet, Colin McPherson
Apologies: Jeremy Mills (Treasurer), Adam Corvelle, David Seddon
Agenda: Feed-back from working groups and a general discussion on how to put the world to rights.
Colin McPherson heads an Arts Council backed project 'A 41'. He is based in Birkenhead and is exploring how to use photography as a tool for political activism, particularly in the field of inequality - how to capture inequality via photography and what to do with the photos.
The Equality Trust have been supportive and he is looking to work with people already arranged with inequality. He has 3 exhibitions booked and people participating in London, Birmingham and Milton Keynes. He would like to work with a group from Manchester, amateurs or professionals, and will provide training and equipment if necessary.
The time scale is between now and the end of July for an initial briefing session, then participants will go away to do the work and re-convene in September. The first exhibition is expected to be next March. Interested parties should get in touch with Allan Wort (firstname.lastname@example.org)
The Raising Awareness Group are working on a presentation and hope to have it ready for September. They would like to know what the common arguments are used against the case for equality and how to counter these arguments. They are looking for venues/forums to give their presentation - universities, elected members, business gatherings etc.
Maurice reported that he had visited the Newport Equality Trust. They are considering using our constitution as a model and our idea of using working groups.
He also reported on a perceived change of thinking within the
Manchester City councillors regarding economic strategy and the possibility that they are now more open to suggestions from outside.
The groups's thoughts regarding common arguments against Greater Equality and the book The Spirit Level were:
1. The rich will leave the country and therefore remove resources.
Allan said a lot of researches showing most rich people do not leave their home country if for examples taxes are high.
2. There is need for capital accumulation for promoting businesses and therefore jobs and wealth for others.
Allan also has information to show (as Fabians research showed and in the book The Cost of Inequality) that since the 80's most rich people do not actually invest money in wealth creation endeavours but more short term exploitive actions.
3. That the politics of "envy" should not be encouraged.
The view was that caps on income not a good idea but higher taxes suggesting the rich pay a higher proportion of what they earn towards the general good.
4. The Spirit Level statistics were not valid.
Good answers to these accusations on the Equality Trust website. They need to be analysed and known.
5. The Spirit Level while it may show correlation it cannot prove causation between inequality and social ills.
True that causation hard to prove but often "common sense" points of view which people can easily understand can be raised e.g. increase stress on those at the bottom of the social ladder causing increased mental health problems.
What can be done to frustrate ever increasing higher incomes?
The group's overall view was:
a) A lot more transparency in all business and tax issues
b) Clearer tax rules which are devised for the common good
c) Taxing a person/business where their money is actually made.
d) Corporations legally having other objectives other than making profits - more enhanced social responsibility objectives.
e) Promoting procurement polices that took account of wider issues such as social behaviour of a company.
f) Promoting and supporting different types of companies e.g. cooperatives.
g) Promoting workers/community involvement in the management of all companies.
h) Overall improving competition amongst companies so market forces can work effectively.
Main points to cover in dealing with Inequality
1. Moral factors - fairness
2. Economic factors - the cost to the wider society
3. Social factors - described well in the Spirit level and other researches.
The Networking Group meet online and the results of that meeting are up on the website here http://bit.ly/I0023X
Graham reported that local MPs have set up the Greater Manchester Poverty Commission and public meetings will be arranged in each of the ten participating Councils. It was agreed that we should put in a submission to this commission. Graham will draft and circulate for comment.
It was agreed that the core group should continue to meet on a fairly
The next meeting will be 7.00 pm Wednesday 15th August at the Friends Meeting House.
Maurice Barnes and Joe Taylor give their apologies
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