Prime Minister’s plea to practice the virtues
Each week the New Social Covenant Unit recognises Members of Parliament for their covenantal credentials as spotted on the green benches.
This week, both the Prime Minister and former Shadow Chancellor applied themselves to the discipline of covenantal politics.
During a statement on COP26, The Prime Minister appealed to the ancient, Classical covenanter, Aristotle, whose legacy has long taught us that to live excellently is to live virtuously, and to practice this skill.
‘Aristotle taught us that virtue comes not from reasoning and instruction but from habit and from practice. So the success of the Glasgow climate pact lies not just in the promises but in the move that the whole world has now made from setting abstract targets to adopting the nuts-and-bolts programme of work to meet those targets and to reduce CO2 emissions.
‘…I believe that COP26 in Glasgow has been a success and that 1.5° is still alive. That is something I believe that every person in our United Kingdom can and should take immense pride in...’
It is true that any and every grand problem requires individuals to recognise our common humanity, to play to our common strengths and mitigate our common weaknesses. This recognition happens close to home, in our families and communities, where we can agree on the ‘nuts and bolts’ of how to do our bit to save the planet.
‘Take back control’, says John McDonnell MP
Brexit may be done but there is more we can do to secure sovereignty to local places too. The Finance Bill debate saw John McDonnell praise the inaugural recipient of this prize, Jerome Mayhew MP, who welcomed the draught beer relief for it provides £100 million a year in support for local pubs, protecting a key element of social infrastructure in many towns and villages.
‘…before we can even talk about levelling up, we need levelling back. We need to give councils the power to invest in local services in their communities again. Jerome Mayhew, who is not in his place, raised the importance of the Budget for local communities, and I agree’.
McDonnell defends ‘double devolution’, the devolving of power, and budgets, down to local authorities and out to communities. Wigan Council achieved this through its ‘Wigan Deal’ which empowered local people to use their skills and networks to improve services and take ownership of community assets, keeping council tax low and balancing the books. In our recent paper ‘Trusting The People’, we make the case for all local authorities to have a ‘community covenant’ in place to ensure more councils support the efforts of local people.
Also this week, Jeremy Corbyn MP seemed to make the case that ‘genuine public ownership’ means ‘community controlled’ services involving local agencies in the public, private and social sector. Perhaps this is stepping stone to state ownership, or might it signify a move beyond the old communist paradigm and towards something we can all agree on?
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