The following report by Alistair McConnachie appeared in the October 2011 issue of Prosperity.
Our fifteenth annual Conference held at our usual venue, Barnes Close, on Friday 14-Sunday 16 October, saw 46 people present for sessions, plus an additional 9 people who were present for an Award ceremony. Of the 46,we had 22, or 48%, new faces, the highest percentage ever!
Friday evening began just after the evening meal with a welcome from Organiser Alistair McConnachie. The theme was “Promoting the real Plan B: Driving our Solution Forward”, a phrase encapsulating our confident assertion that we had in our hands, in the shape of the Bank of England (Creation of Currency) Bill, the real Plan B – and it was our dynamic intention to drive it forward.
Purchase back issues of Alistair McConnachie’s Prosperity money reform journal here, where you can also purchase a hard copy of the Bank of England (Creation of Currency) Bill And here is a link to Alistair McConnachie’s Google Profile.
This was followed by Lowell Manning all the way from New Zealand with his brother, Terry. Lowell spoke about the NZ scene and his work to establish a theoretical basis for Money Reform. Alistair then spoke again around the concept of creating “viral videos” – videos which spread around the internet because they are so captivating. Using the projector, he brought attention to the YouTube video of Bill Still speaking at last year’s Bromsgrove. This had now been seen by over 24,500 people! He said that one video, being seen by 100,000, had the potential to transform our situation. We have, he said, to be ready for that moment – because it is coming! He stated a goal for the weekend would be to raise £1,000 to enable Positive Money to produce such viral videos. Steven Walsh, from Chicago, then introduced his work, and briefed us on the American Money Reform scene.
Saturday began with Canon Peter Challen summing up the challenges and the many responses of which he is aware. He emphasised the importance of “thinking of our text in relation to context”, and “not to lose sight of principles as we follow pragmatic action”.
Bob Welham presented the first part of “Our Money System Part 1: An Introduction to Debt-based Money and Banking” which was filmed for editing and publication on the internet. He said that the banking sector “is accumulating wealth by charging us to use its numbers!”
After coffee, Ben Dyson spoke on the activities of the campaigning group Positive Money and its plans for the future. A question was asked how best to answer those who claim that “bank credit” is somehow different from “money”. Ben answered by saying that bank credit is money because it is backed by the taxpayer. Another said that if you can use it to pay your taxes then it is clearly money!
Mike Black gave a precise and well-delivered presentation on “Our Money System Part 2: Examining what Happens to the Money from Repaid Bank Loans. Is it cancelled out of existence, or does it remain in the system?” He “cracked the code” back in 2006 and we’re pleased to say that this was recorded to be published on the internet.
After lunch, Bromsgrove 2011 was pleased to host two Award presentations by the Birmingham-based Thomas Attwood Group, to James Gibb Stuart and to James Robertson for Services to Monetary Reform. Thomas Attwood was a social reformer, a leading figure for the Great Reform Act, and the first MP for Birmingham in 1832.
It was very fitting to have both the James’s present at this landmark Bromsgrove. John Johansen-Berg conducted the ceremonies, and the Awards were passed by the young Thomas Southwell – a member of the Attwood family. James Robertson paid tribute to all who had kept the event alive over the 15 years, including the organiser Alistair McConnachie.
Following this, and prior to the presentation of the third James Gibb Stuart Trust Award for Services to Monetary Education, Alistair spoke about the history of the Bromsgrove Conference. This was followed by the presentation of the Award to Peter Challen, Canon Emeritus of Southwark Cathedral, Free Citizen of the Borough of Southwark, weekly Convener of the Global Table, and tireless promoter of Monetary Justice.
After coffee, the Inaugural James Gibb Stuart Trust Address was delivered by Omar Shaikh, who had come down from Glasgow with his colleague Waqar Chattha. He spoke on, “The Development of Islamic Finance in the UK and the Potential for Communities to Work Together on Shared Values”. Omar is a Board Member of the Islamic Finance Council andsits on the UK Treasury Advisory Sub-Committee advising HM Government on fiscal policies for Islamic products. He was inspired by the Revd Henry Duncan, the Scotsman who founded the world’s first commercial Savings Bank in 1810, and the connection between that ethical view and the Islamic vision, which sought to avoid speculation, live within one’s means, and “save to spend” rather than “borrow to spend”.
Islamic banking sought “to find practical solutions which would deliver ethical objects.” It was important to be able “to market financial products which were based on ethics.” He said that the Islamic banks had been shielded from the sub-prime crisis because those products involved interest charges, which were prohibited under Islamic banking.
A professional Westminster lobbyist with one of London’s premier political consultancies, then presented the first of a 2-part explanation on how to lobby Parliament effectively for our solution. He took the opinion that if the banks were lobbying against you then that was a good thing. It meant they were taking you seriously. He explained how lobbyists work, and how a strategy can be developed to “create a road map towards the people who make the decisions”. It was necessary to consider how the principles of the reform “align with the principles of that political party, or newspaper” to whom one is speaking.
Civil servants had various duties and targets. It was the lobbyist’s task to “align our concerns with the civil servants goals” to show them how we can help them deliver their targets. He also ran through the different opportunities possible for debate in Westminster, beyond merely debates in the Chamber.
Simon Dixon, the Founder and CEO of BanktotheFuture.com gave an inspiring talk on how this was a business way to promote Money Reform. It would, he said, have 4 guiding principles:
1. The money is yours – it will not belong to the bank, as it does, legally, under UK law at present [as per Foley v Hill, (1848), 2 HL Cas. 28; 9 ER 1002; and (1843-1860) All ER Rep. 16].
2. You will always know what your money is used for, because you will allocate it, or you will approve its allocation.
3 BanktotheFuture.com will only support productive enterprise. “If you want to borrow money to go on a holiday this is not for you.”
4. Importantly, it will not use its banking license to create money!
After the evening meal, the Westminster lobbyistpresented the second part of his well-received material, on “How to Lobby your MP”. This included many valuable tips on structuring your letter (what is the problem, why it is a problem, and especially how the problem is relevant to your MP’s politics), why emails and postcards were not as effective, what to say when you phone (don’t phone about an issue, rather phone to ask if they got your letter).
Sunday began with Andrew Jackson, a researcher with Positive Money, and a co-author of Where does Money Come from? A Guide to the UK Monetary and Banking System, (available at PositiveMoney.org.uk ) explaining one of its latest research projects, sponsored by the James Gibb Stuart Trust, intended to document answers to the 4 main objections to the draft Bill. He pointed out that only 8% of bank lending goes to productive activity. Thus 92% could be removed with little adverse effect, and much good effect, on the economy!
Alistair then led a successful open session on the concept of “Scripting a Viral Video to Drive our Solution Forward”, which brought together a lot of good ideas which had been boiling over the weekend.
Steven Walsh spoke again about the USA, and Ben Dyson reported on his time at the 7th Annual AMI Conference in Chicago on 29th Sept-2nd Oct, at which he was a Speaker, sponsored by the James Gibb Stuart Trust.
Peter Challen rounded up the event reflecting on the Attwood Awards the previous day which had seen us welcome the two James’s, “these great pioneers”. Alistair noted that we were well on our way to reaching the £1,000 donations target for the weekend. [We are pleased to report that the final tally exceeded this goal – and it went to purchase top of the range video-editing equipment for Positive Money, giving it the in-house capability to turn around video material quickly.]
It always seems that each Bromsgrove is “the best ever”, and once again, that could truly be said of our landmark fifteenth Conference!
BROMSGROVE COMES OF AGE
by Peter Challen
Just 15 years from birth and
the fast maturing open council,
known by influence upon monetary justice,
and the search to escape ‘the grip of death’,
named by location, ‘Bromsgrove’,
nurtured in a ‘fellowship of reconciliation’,
warmly settled for deliberations on Money Lane,
in the lea of Money Tree Hill,
now leaves ‘home’ in a flourishing
diaspora, ‘Positive Meetup’;
released in life’s marathon,
by beneficial, viral contagion,
as the new generations take up the baton
on the last leg of the sprint
to inclusive justice;
moving inexorably towards
people’s control of commons and community,
in just incomes, fair spending, wise saving,
in creative trading and available productive credit;
aided along this pilgrims’ way
by emergent democratic governance,
to ‘Occupy’, to infuse,
the planetary economy
with inclusive justice;
graveyard of financial exploitation.