BLOGS

What did we win?

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It will take a while for the impact to sink in, but here are some of the key achievements of yesterday’s assembly – and links to media coverage.

The leaders of all the major party agreed…
– to be held to account by Citizens UK – in assemblies and round-table meetings – during the next Parliament
– a Community Land Trust on the Olympic Park after 2012
– caps on exploitative lending and a stronger mutual banking sector

– Labour committed to a Living Wage for Whitehall workers – something the Tories are also looking to fund
– Labour and the Tories committed to reviewing the practice of detaining children seeking sanctuary
– LibDems committed to ending child detention – and to a one-off earned amnesty for undocumented migrants

Today’s Guardian includes Patrick Wintour on front page (‘Battered PM finds his voice’); Allegra Stratton on p. 4 (‘Brown triumphs in unofficial fourth leadership debate’) and Marina Hyde on p. 5 (‘Real people, excruciating stories and a bit of recycling’).  The Telegraph has a sketch on p.8, emphasising the role of faith in the event – ‘Son of the manse in his element among the righteous’.  Online, there’s good coverage from the Finanical Times and Reuters.

The Contextual Theology Centre sponsored this historic event, and our officers, interns and partner churches were heavily involved:
– Fr Sean Connolly (CTC Assistant Director) was interviewed on Channel Four News as he led a pre-assembly study group on our new book Faithful Citizens
– Bethan Lant (St Mary’s, Cable Street) was one of the co-chairs and Fr Rob Wickham (St John-at-Hackney) introduced the assembly
– CTC Tutor Capt Nick Coke (Stepney Salvation Army) told the story of the CitySafe campaign – a key project of Jellicoe Interns
– Dr Luke Bretherton (CTC Fellow) handled some of the key public negotiations with David Cameron
– CTC Director Revd Angus Ritchie spoke alongside low-paid cleaners from the Treasury to present the case for the Living Wage to Gordon Brown – and Senior Tutor Revd Adam Atkinson (St Paul’s Shadwell) handled some of the key public negotiations
– CTC Fellow Mgr John Armitage (St Anne’s, Custom House) gave the final, rousing send-off to the 2500-strong assembly

Party leaders come to CITIZENS UK Assembly

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Hours before the final TV debate, Citizens UK confirmed that Cameron and Clegg will all be attending a historic Assembly in central London.  The PM has also been invited.  The 2500-person event on Monday will be the last at which the party leaders can all make their case to the people.  Uniquely, they will do it by responding to Citizens UK’s ‘People’s Manifesto’ – which calls for a Living Wage, Community Land Trusts, a cap on interest rates, an earned amnesty for undocumented migrants and an end to the detention of children seeking sanctuary.

The manifesto arises from Listening Campaigns and Delegates Assemblies across the Citizens network – in which Jellicoe interns and Contextual Theology Centre staff have played a key part.  The Centre is proud to be a sponsor of the Assembly.

For more news on the Assembly, sign up for our Twitter feed at http://twitter.com/theologycentre

Keeping you in suspense…

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Jellicoe interns are involved in planning a major Citizens UK event in the week of the General Election… we’d hoped to be able to make an announcement by now – but it looks as if it will later in the week before we can go public with the news.  You can also keep up to date with developments by following us on Twitter

THURSDAY MORNING UPDATE: The event will be on the afternoon of Monday, 3rd May in Methodist Central Hall, with leading political figures.  We’re waiting for Citizens UK to make a formal announcement, probably later on today.  We will blog the news – and st information on TV coverage – as soon as we have it.

It’s all happening…

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Citizen organising remains at the heart of the election campaign, in a way we couldn’t have imagined even a few months ago…

Firstly  – as we covered in previous posts – we had David Cameron’s visit to London Citizens’ East End HQ and Labour’s manifesto commitments on our economic agenda

Secondly, our Jellicoe interns and staff were key to last week’s Tower Hamlets Accountability Assembly.  This included local MPs George Galloway and Jim Fitzpatrick, and Council Leader Lutfur Rahman – who gave his backing to our affordable housing campaign.  Here’s the video they were shown:

Thirdly, with the Clegg surge, Strangers into Citizens has gone centre stage (not least in today’s Daily Express…).  Nick Clegg agreed to back our campaign for an earned amnesty for undocumented migrants back when he was the LibDem spokesman on Home Affairs – and it’s in the manifesto.  It’s hard to write this off as his opponents want to – after all, the campaign also has the backing of Tory Mayor of London Boris Johnson and Labour Deputy Leader Harriet Harman!

Now, May 3rd is shaping up to be the biggest day yet for citizen organising and national politics.  Expect a major announcement here on Monday – if not before…

UPDATE: Magdalen College is hosting an election-night seminar on the impact of citizen organising on the campaign

New book on ‘the real Third Way’

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With community organising making such an impact on the election debate, the Contextual Theology Centre has released a timely new book on the subject.  Crunch Time: A Call to Action includes essays by Luke Bretherton, Vincent Rougeau and Maurice Glasman on London Citizens’ economic agenda – including the Living Wage and anti-usury laws (now in the Labour manifesto) – and ends with a tour de force by John Milbank on Christian social teaching as ‘the real Third Way’ between the ‘idolatry’ of State and market.

Jellicoe anniversary

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Heady times for Fr Jellicoe and the Jellicoe Community … who have both reached the front page of the Church Times this week!  The paper includes a piece by Prof Diarmaid MacCulloch, written to mark the 75th anniversary of Fr Jellicoe’s death, and another by Simon Cuff on his experience as a Jellicoe intern. 

The Bishop of London will preach at a service of thanksgiving for Fr Jellicoe and the Community on the evening of 25th July at St Martin-in-the-Fields, Trafalgar Square.  This is timed to coincide with the summer internship, when we will have over a dozen students from Oxford and London Universities placed with churches in East London.

Living Wage ‘to be in Labour manifesto’

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According to today’s Daily Mirror, the Labour party is to put a Living Wage pledge into its forthcoming election manifesto – a huge success for London Citizens and all who work with them – including successive Jellicoe interns and the congregations in which they have been placed.  Contextual Theology Centre Director The Revd Angus Ritchie, who has been involved in the Living Wage Campaign from the start, hailed this as “really exciting news”.

“When London Citizens began the Living Wage Campaign, we knew it would be hard work to get this embedded as the policy of the Mayor of London.  We were delighted when Ken Livingstone and then Boris Johnson signed up.  I have to say, I didn’t think we’d get the backing of national politicians with such speed.  David Cameron told us last week that he was seriously considering the policy, and if this report is right, Gordon Brown is going to make a solid commitment to the Living Wage.”

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