Brockley Festival of Ideas 2016: Session 1

Participation and Democracy

Chaired by Oliver Lewis

Sean Coughlan – Broadcaster

Ivo Mosley – Author

Swetam Gungah – Mathematical Physicist

Camilla Berens – Journalist and Activist

Michael O’Keefe – ‘Positive Money’ Economist

Full audio recording (1h 18m).

See below for start times of sections.




Clare Cowen, Chair of the Brockley Society 

Oliver Lewis, Chair of the St John’s Society



The Future of Education

Sean Coughlan


Coughlan b&w 300pixDebates about education are rarely really about education at all. They are usually proxies for other types of battles, between left and right, progressive and traditionalist, and the outcomes of those arguments are usually dominated by political tribalism rather than any rational or objective use of evidence. Much more energy seems to go into “stopping the other side” rather than in finding common cause to improve schools. It’s been that way for many decades, so in trying to guess the future of education, the mistake would be to think that it is going to be rational.

Sean is an award-winning education correspondent, writing for and editing the’Global Education‘  series on the BBC News website. He is also a TV and radio broadcaster and is the author of several books.


A Constitution for a Genuine Democracy

Ivo Mosley  (read by Xanthe Mosley)


Mosley v2 b&w 300pixTo replace our pseudo-democratic constitution with a true democratic constitution by tried and tested institutions of true democracy, these being: Political juries, local assemblies open to all citizens and given local powers; election of representatives from these local assemblies to higher-level assemblies; national referenda initiated by citizens not politicians; scrutiny of existing laws by citizen bodies; and the creation of money openly by the state, not secretly by private banks.

Transcript available here.

Ivo is an author of fiction, plays, and cultural criticism for many publications, both mainstream and fringe. His most recent book is entitled “In The Name Of The People”.


Sensible About Science

Swetam Gungah


Gungah v2 b&w 300pixThe scientific method has brought us prosperity and emancipation from repetitive labour. Greater and more widespread familiarity with the scientific method is vital if we are to understand what it can do for humanity, and also understand its limitations when it comes to making use of our new freedoms.

Swetam is a mathematical physicist who is keen to encourage the debate about science, the scrutiny of scientific claims and the importance of scepticism.

View the Powerpoint presentation here.


Creating Renewable Energy Locally

Camilla Berens


Berens v2 b&w 300pixDozens of communities around the UK have set up their own renewable energy organisations to help combat climate change. Camilla explains how local energy co-operative, South East London Community Energy, has raised £360,000 to provide solar energy for seven local primary schools and why it is now running a series of energy advice cafes to help people affected by fuel poverty.

Camilla is chair of South East London Community Energy and is based in Brockley. She is also a journalist and environmental activist.

View the Powerpoint presentation here.


Change Money, Change the World

Michael O’Keefe


O'Keefe v2 b&w 300pixAt present, money is created, destroyed and created again in a continuous process for the benefit of the rich and powerful. This is how 8 individuals have come to own more than half the world’s population. Money should no longer be created like this by commercial banks; it should be created as simple property by sovereign governments, for the benefit of all.

Michael is a retired economist, non-executive director of Greenwich and Bexley Credit Union and co-chair of the Greenwich and Lewisham Positive Money local group.

Read a transcript here.


Questions and Discussion



Links to other Pages:

Session 2: A Fairer World
Session 3: An Inclusive Society
Session 4: Building a New Economy

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