CamdenNewJournal

The independent London newspaper

XR movement has parliamentary democracy in its sights

25 June, 2019

IT may not have the staying power of the massive demonstrations in central London earlier this year, but the protest in Camden Town last night shows Extinction Rebellion (XR) looks like it is here to stay.

The branch of the national group is meeting each week to plan further demonstrations and events across the borough.

Organisers say they will establish a regular presence in Camden by sending members to community events and political meetings.

Many young people at the protest yesterday spoke about how they had not only been inspired by the direct approach to halting climate change, but also the “citizens assembly” way of debating ideas and forming policy.

XR describes the concept as “similar to jury service” where members are randomly selected.

Quotas are used to ensure that the assembly is representative in terms of key characteristics like gender, age, ethnicity, education level and geography.

Members are then taught about “critical thinking” before spending time drafting and then voting on recommendations.

Unlike other progressive political groups and parties, XR Camden say there is no obvious hierarchy to its organisation. When it comes to the challenge of climate change, the group is pointing the finger not just at individual leaders or political parties, but at the entire system of parliamentary democracy itself.

The movement is growing out of a perceived democratic void. Politicians take note!

Solve the City Farm crisis!

AN impasse has been reached over the future of the Kentish Town City Farm – and it doesn’t make sense.

A businessman has offered to provide £100,000 to save the Farm and both key players – the Farm’s board and its biggest donor, Camden Council – complain of arm-twisting and shake their heads, while the staff, many of whom will lose their jobs if proposed economies go ahead, say “Yes please”, but are ignored.

The Farm is a wonderful green oasis, pioneered in Camden more than 40 years ago. It cannot be allowed to vanish simply because of lack of effort to keep it alive. All parties are obliged to solve the crisis.

Councillors, Town Hall officials, and local MP Sir Keir Starmer, have a special responsibility.

If necessary an outsider should be called in to mediate. This crisis shouldn’t be allowed to drift.

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