Thursday, 13 May 2010

A time of change: social and political

On Monday I wrote a piece which appeared in Guardian Public. Here it is:

"Having stayed up all night on Thursday to watch events unfold, twittering and blogging for Britain, I was rewarded by a result that feels absolutely right.

As the power struggle continues the electorate has spoken. Seat by seat, voters carefully picked through the spin and returned, for the most part, those whose offer rang true. I cheered as Brighton gave us our first Green MP, Caroline Lucas. She's just one woman, but when numbers are tight, her voice will be loud.

My MP is now Zac Goldsmith, who promises us green conservatism. Go on then Zac, show us how it's done, and while you're about it, talk to our local parent consortia, Social Enterprise London member Parent Promoted Foundation, which is trying to sort out schooling in Sheen.

Pundits tell us that democracy has been lost in this process. Certainly the debacle many experienced trying to cast their vote was a travesty, but are the results really so bad? I happen to think that they are full of glittering potential. The leaders spent the campaign telling us we would have to take our medicine for a crisis that remember, was not of our making. On Friday morning they led by example, and took theirs. I think it was cod liver oil all round.

Like elephants, the electorate remembered. Those who had got their hands caught in the cookie jar, or who had been a bit too "cheeky" were given an opportunity to spend more time with their families.

It turns out no one was keen on the promise of cuts when the lowest paid always end up the biggest losers. Those candidates who worked hard at local level on platforms of environmental sustainability and social justice met with greater success than ever before. For the social enterprise movement, which is founded on these things, this felt like change.

A powerful role to play

The 2,100 social enterprises I represent deliver social change through business. Our message is simple; you can do a lot of good by demanding social action with a business model that stacks up. As John Charles, chief executive of Catering2Order, a Lewisham-based corporate catering social enterprise that employs blind and visually impaired people, said to me on Friday morning: "Social enterprise delivers something new and exciting. This result shows that Britain is ready for change and I believe social enterprise will have a powerful role to play."

Getting to grips with economic recovery and improved public services through community engagement is our unique proposition. Sophie Tranchell, chief executive of Divine Chocolate, like me was optimistic. She says the parties are aware that in tackling our financial crisis social enterprise is part of the solution.

The principles of mutual ownership and community-led enterprise, fair investment and true sustainability are now part of conversations everyone is having. When I met Philip Blond, the so-called red Tory last week, we were certainly on the same page.

At this election we reminded politicians that franchise is a social contract. We want change and we want what is fair."

Click here to read the original piece.

No comments:

Post a Comment