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BASIC COMMON SENSE

24-05-2008

Brian Eno

Musician and artist Brian Eno recently hosted a meeting at his studio for the British-American Security information Council, which supports nuclear disarmament. Barbara Panvel wasn’t on the guest list, but was interested in the outcome. 

The government’s National Security Strategy report was presented as a challenge to NGOs wishing to influence government.

It refers to issues including international poverty, climate change, regional conflict and nuclear proliferation.

Security ("the most important responsibility of government") was redefined in terms of the impact on individuals and communities.  

BASIC’S new director, Paul Ingram, says, “The challenge is to pull together more effectively - not as a single voice, but as diverse voices seeing our agendas within a larger context.

"Climate change, food and energy prices, government spending priorities, aid and military deployments - all are linked closely together".  

He ended: “If we do not rise to the holistic challenge our efforts to influence the agenda will be stymied.

"We are looking to create a conversation between NGOs in order to map these issue links more effectively and work out ways in which we can use this agenda to be more effective in our relationship with government." 

This is a challenge which has been set before.  

In 2005 many people joined the Making Poverty History campaign, but a year later it was seriously diminished by internal conflict. 

In 2000 several organisations in Birmingham, including local groups from Campaign Against the Arms Trade, Friends of the Earth, WM New Economics Group, CND and the United Nations Association also prepared a response to a Labour Party policy document: this time ‘Britain in the World’.

They called their response ’Britain in the Real World’.  

Poverty has not been ‘made history’ and the problems in the real world have not been addressed by the Labour Party, once in power, apart from limited action on money laundering & recent attempts by senior British former generals and Nato commanders to persuade the government to agree to a total ban on cluster bombs.  

The Jubilee Debt Campaign is to be congratulated on keeping their objective uppermost in their hearts and minds so that any differences arising have not been allowed to wreck this campaign, which has achieved some goals and will reach others if work continues in this co-operative spirit. 

Future coalitions please note!

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