New narrative or same old story? #Manchester groups challenge councillors to think differently and better #bouncebackbetter

This Thursday (3rd September) a short report about Manchester’s economic recovery will be discussed by elected members of the City Council. It is not a good report, and a group of environmental and social justice campaigners have come together to challenge it and the deeper narrative of a “return to normal”.

The report, which claims to be part of a “new economic narrative” will be discussed by the Economy Scrutiny Committee of the Council.  There are six scrutiny committees, which are supposed to act as a watchdog and a sounding board, making sure that the 10 member Executive is not making horrendous mistakes, over and over.  The report will be accompanied by a presentation, which members of the public will be able to watch as well (the entire meeting is online only).

Over the weekend, members of Climate Emergency Manchester, Steady State Manchester and the Green New Deal podcast collaborated on a briefing paper (see as word document and as pdf)  about this report.

Why? Because we need to challenge the assumption that some sort of “return to normal” is possible, desirable or even ethical.  We as a city desperately need fresh thinking, not a re-run of old tactics which might have been ‘fit for purpose’ in the 1990s, but are long past their useful life.

The briefing paper critiques what the elected councillors will be presented with, and asks them to

  • Realise that they are going to be left with the problems caused by strategic errors. What do councillors expect to inherit? If Manchester fails to take the right steps now, and chart a new course, then their entire political careers will be a very long, messy mopping up operation.
  • Actively explore and discuss alternative models of economics and of building shared prosperity. If we don’t start discussing different ways of doing things, how can we ever have those ways? For example, Newham Council (East London) is dropping GDP as a measure of progress. There is a reading list at the end of this document, with links to different ways of thinking. 
  • Realise that their vote for a Climate Emergency declaration in July 2019 compels different ways of thinking, and that the public is watching. Emergency declarations are not ‘business as usual’.
  • Conduct or commission an options appraisal of at least three alternative strategic models, and call for reports on alternative economic models to be discussed in Scrutiny and at Executive meetings.  There are no shortage of organisations able to produce such reports – CLES, NEF, IPPR-North, as well as experts on the Foundational Economy.

There are also recommendations for the Executive and for citizens and groups.


What now? Two things

a) we’d love to hear your thoughts on the Council report and on our Briefing Paper

b) please write to any of the 10 councillors on the Economy Scrutiny Committee whom you know, or whom represent you, explaining that you’d like them to ask searching questions this Thursday about the so-called “new economic narrative.”  You can find out their names and emails here

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