I attended the fantastic Ealing Beer Festival on Friday 13 July 2018.
10 June 2018 at 1813 by Comments|
This was the first National Conference BECTU had taken part in since the union amalgamated with Prospect in January 2017.
One of the highlights of the conference was a session on Brexit.
This started with a panel discussion chaired by comedian and political commentator Ayesha Hazarika and consisting of Hilary Benn MP, chair of the Commons Exiting the EU select committee, NATS chief executive Martin Rolfe and CBI chief economist Rain Newton-Smith.
Following the informative panel discussion, there followed a number of questions from conference delegates and a debate and vote to support a ‘peoples vote’ on the final form of words proposed on any future relationship between the EU and the UK.
There was also a speech by the BBC Director General Tony Hall, who took questions from conference delegates afterwards.
I also attended, as part of the break-out section of conference, an absorbing session on the future of work, looking at the impact of artificial intelligence.
A very interesting conference, helped by the nearby location of two Wetherspoon pubs.
11 February 2018 at 1125 by Comments|
I attended the seventh LPD Annual Members’ Forum on Sunday 4 February 2018.
- The impact of Brexit on the film and TV industries – an overview of the state of play by Tony Lennon of BECTU Research
- TV Drama and Feature Film agreements – a briefing on the current situation concerning these important agreements
- #EyesHalfShut campaign update – a discussion about developing this campaign in the future
This event was followed by drinks in the Lock Tavern pub.
27 January 2018 at 1906 by Comments|
The unconference was split into a number of parallel streams, with the sessions in each streams be taken by participants following an iniitial gathering at which the sessions were selected by those present.
The fantastic day concluded with a number of drinks being consumed at a nearby local hostelry!
Many thanks to the organisers and sponsors for enabling another brilliant UKGovCamp.
16 September 2017 at 1323 by Comments|
Christina, Des and myself have been to the festival every year since 2011, and since 2013, have stayed for seven days as Green Man Settlers – this was Mark’s first visit to the festival.
We got to the site on Monday 14 August, and we all (well, nearly all!) erected our tents. Afterwards we then went to the nearby Settlers Bar to sample the various alcoholic beverages available.
Before the start of the actual festival, we enjoyed the entertainment laid on for settlers, particularly Parobas in the Settlers Bar. We also visted nearby Crickhowell, making sure we went to both the Bridge End Inn and the Britannia Inn.
We particularly enjoyed during the festival Future Islands, Michael Kiwanuka, Shirley Collins, Tom Ravenscroft and his late night party, Saint Etienne, Julian Cope, P J Harvey along with a good dance in the Chai Wallahs.
On Sunday evening the festival concluded with traditional burning of the Green Man and associated firework display.
On the Monday Des returned to London (via Bristol!), whilst the rest of us stayed at the Park Farm Camp Site – the weather was so fantastic we stayed camping for a further two weeks!
Another fantastic holiday in South Wales – we’re already looking forward to Green Man 2018!
11 May 2017 at 2054 by Comments|
I attended the BECTU Sector Conference on Sunday 7 May 2017 at the Hilton Metropole Hotel in Brighton.
This interesting conference, also attended for the first time by Communications and Digital Division as a result of the recent merger with Prospect, is the first of a series of biennial gatherings.
Many thanks to all the participants and organisers for contributing to an involving conference.
1 April 2017 at 1924 by Comments|
Most of the conference was split into three parallel streams – themed as financialisation, inequality and devolution.
Amongst the sessions I attended were:
- A civil discussion – this talk by Bob Kerslake looked at UK devolution. Bob said that devolution was currently popular (79% in favour) and that 40% of UK output is generated by London and the south east. His conclusions included that the current devolution focuses too much on the cities and mayors, that currently some areas are off limits (eg education), and that local funding can only be raised through business rates and council tax. He said that voting reform needs to be introduced to reflect the electorate, some form of proportional representation such as in Scotland, because of the change from the 1950s two party system to today’s multi party politics. He said his view is that devolution needs to be based in splitting up England into large regional areas, eg south east, south west, midlands and north.
- Brexit means..? this panel session involved Phil Whyman, Grace Blakeley, Vicky Pryce and Francis Cappola. Phil, speaking as someone who voted to leave the EU (the only one at conference?), looked at statistics produced to estimate the costs and benefits of leaving the EU – he noted that only one study was from a Post-Keynesian viewpoint. Grace Blakeley, from IPPR North, looked at the position of the north west: the effects of the Thatcher administration in the 1980s, that north west growth lags behind where it should be, that London is well ahead of the rest of the UK on multiple measures, that the region worked more strongly than other areas to leave the EU despite the effects of leaving are likely to be negative, and that no activity had currently replaced the old industrial base. Vicky Pryce looked at economics connected with leaving the EU: £60bn has already been spent supporting the pound compared to the £80bn cost per year of the UK being a EU member, there is likely to be not much growth in the foreseeable future, that purchases had already moved to the basics, that wage growth is slowing down, and there is likely to be further a inbalance in the economy with a slowdown in investment. There followed a lively question and answer session.
- Powerhouse or pipe dream? The future of the north – a panel session involving Neil McInroy, Ed Cox and Sean Anstee. Neil said the concept of the powerhouse was being applied internationally – typically involved some sort of fund being awarded to an area (normally a city), it is usually not new money, and it is normally applied without any connected industrial policy; he said such plans and frameworks needs to sit on top of an industrial policy and there is a great danger the northern powerhouse, like its predecessors, could fail. Ed Cox, Head of IPPR North, said there is a danger the powerhouse could cause problems unintentionally, but the powerhouse could work but won’t in the context of the current government because George Osborne had structured all the current devolution plans around big cities, fast trains and powerful mayors; he said the plans could be improved in a number of ways – improving human potential (eg education), braking down barriers (eg research and development), improving infrastructure (eg transport and broadband), finance, and carrying this all against a back round of stable policy and infrastructure; he said London is decoupling from the rest of the country and the only chance of changing the situation was the introduction of regional devolution, eg the north. Sean Anstee, from Trafford Council, said that cities such as Manchester and Leeds, where too small compared to other cities internationally, that previous attempts at devolution had been derailed by central government, that the EU referendum was an expression of the electorate wishing for a redistribution of power once the UK has left the EU and in response the government needs to explore ways to support local communities. There followed a wide ranging question and answer section of the session.
- The production of money – this keynote address, given by Ann Pettifor, brought everyone together in one lecture theatre. Starting from her latest book, The Production of Money, Ann said an understanding of money production was fundamental to understanding economics. She said that money was created from thin air by individuals and companies applying for credit from banks ie the monetary system. Before 1690 and the formation of the Bank of England, the only option in the UK to get credit was from the local robber barrens, or other rich person, who would charge interest on any loan. John Law, the Scottish economist, tried to introduce the monetary system without success, but in France, in 1716, introduced the first central bank in the world and ended virtually being the French prime minister! She said the use of a credit card, which requires no other documentation, only relies on a promise from the individual concerned to the shop, via the bank that issued the card, that the money will be repaid, and this must be backed up by the law. There followed how the value of money is set (by a central bank) and how the lack of a legal system that does not backup credit means there is no credit. There followed a lively question and answer session.
- Contending economic theories: a pluralist view – this lecture was given by Andy Ross and Fred Day. Andy started his talk building a simplified block diagram of economy, centred on expenses, assets and activity. He said it was crucial to apply all the pluralistic tools when carrying out economic examination of issues. Fred Day talked about the joy of pluralism. He said some apply mathematics to economics, but it is really all about a narrative, and that it’s important to know the history of economics to avoid repeating historical errors. There once again followed a detailed (and pluralistic!) question and answer session.
I mentioned to a number of people, including some of the event organisers, that PCES should organise a one day unconference – I’m sure, given the nature of the questions from the attendees, this would work. I’m also prepared, given my previous experience, to become involved in the organisation of such an event.
The weekend concluded with a number of drinks being consumed at the nearby Kro Bar in Oxford Road.
Many thanks to the organisers and sponsors for running a fantastic conference.
21 February 2017 at 1733 by Comments|
I attended the sixth LPD Annual Members’ Forum on Sunday 19 February 2017.
The industrial report outlined feedback on PACT negotiations concerning television drama (looking good) and PACT negotiations on feature film production (definitely not looking good).
Carole Tongue then gave a very interesting update on developments since the (disastrous) UK EU referendum.
An outline of upcoming tax and VAT chnages for freelancers was then given by Tony Lennon, followed by Paul Evans on ideas for LPD campaigning in 2017 (the popular idea seemed to be respect for everyone working in the industry).
This was followed by a number of drinks, in a nearby facility, to celebrate LPD reaching 10,000 members!
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