Wednesday, 1 April 2009

London Calling: G20 and 'Jobs, Justice and Climate'

Londoners may have noticed SOMETHING happening in town today. The G20 summit is being held in London this week to discuss 'the global economic situation' while at the same time thousands of people have been protesting in the streets of London in relation to causes around tackling poverty, the recession and climate change. This was proceeded by a massive Put People First march on Saturday 28 March.

As far as the three broad strands of 'jobs, justice and climate' go, there's not a lot to disagree with. But what do the protesters specifically want? The BBC has quotes from various of the campaign groups involved. Sounds good, as I say, but the devil would be in the detail of course, and crucially whether those in power - in government, in business and elsewhere - are willing to change the status quo. How is all this to be achieved? How much pain will it involve and for which interest groups? On the hopeful side, some of these cosy groups themselves are starting to suffer as a result of the economic situation and may therefore be more moved to implement change on the economic front if not quite on climate. It would be good though to think that someone is listening and taking note of the strength of feeling expressed on the streets this week but given an earlier post, things are not looking hopeful.

Still, the personnel have changed (for Tony, now Gordon; for George, now Obama) and these two new leaders, at least, are thought to be more progressive and concerned with social justice than their predecessors. And seeing as I have been tracking The Great One, it would remiss not to note that today was of course Barack Obama's first time in London as Pres. According to Jan Dalley on Newsnight (at 40.45 mins) last night Obama can still enjoy a honeymoon period in Europe for a while longer though she reckons the shine's worn off in the USA. Some though reckon he matters little in any case, mere figurehead that he is for other powerful groups and interests whose views must prevail - I meant to post a while ago this typically frank assessment of Obama by John Pilger in the New Statesman. Hmm, I always enjoy reading Pilger and often agree with him but on this I'd like to wait and see about Obama. Anyway, I digress, a bit...

What do you think about the summit and what the protesters want? Ultimately only history will reveal what part, if any, this week's events will have played in sowing the seeds of seeking a new way of organising society and the way that we all live together across the world. Because let's face it, capitalism in its present form is just not sustainable.

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