National Conversation: Mooting a new Beveridge?

And another virtual panel takes the field. Not a #DigitalLunch, that it has been inspired by what’s still a relatively modest series of events.

Tomorrow I’ve been asked by the National Conversation’s David Taylor (a fellow Ulsterman) to host a couple of hangouts or Moots which takes a look at the future of welfare in the UK.

David explains here (by the power of Google Hangouts) the rational behind National Conversation, and in particular why they’ve chosen the 70th anniversary of the first Beveridge report to start their first National Conversation:

Whether for or against it, welfare is a problem. And one, as Frank Field notes in his article in last month’s Prospect Magazine that most sitting government (and even former sitting governments) have few incentives to tackle fully and honestly.

To a large extent the problem is funding. Whichever model you look at, there is the abiding problem of expectations outstripping resources. Something for which Beveridge, deeply embedded in wartime austerity and high levels of social solidarity, made little provision.

Through a series of events this week David and the National Conversation will hope to explore what people from beyond the instrumental world of Westminster actually think about welfare.

The aim is to make a qualitative contribution to a shared understanding of the problems as they present to ordinary people and feed those perceptions back into the machine again.

Tomorrow’s ‘Moot’ will explore what the issues are, and deliberately seek to bring together voices from both the left and the right… with another one next week that will try to draw the various threads together…

If you are interested in taking part, email me at or if you are on Gmail or Google Plus, you can sign up at the event page here

  • Exactly what is ‘National Conversation’? Looked around and a bit confused.

  • Mick Fealty

    Should be covered in the YouTube TD. If you have any questions after that, certainly punt them this way, and I’ll see if we can get some answers?

  • Who is ‘we’. Website a bit thin. Big idea perhaps, but York centric? Moot is a legal debate – old style mock trial on point, a kind of structured debate but with evidence etc. That is not a conversation. Bit confused as to who is having this ‘national’ conversation.

  • Mick Fealty

    Indeed. It was an attempt to go back to something more Saxon than Norman and suggestive of the common law tradition. Courts of Moot were hyperlocal phenomena.

    But to be clear it is not a trial; it is to be a conversation. Not dissimilar to the #DigitalLunch format.

    York is not Westminster. It’s a ‘poetic’ conceit. I see them as binaries. Dublin, not Dublin. Capital, not capital. It’s a campaign. It has cross party support.

    And it is pushing for a conversation, not any given conclusion. It is another leap in the dark. I’m not sure what the Moot will come up with.

    But we’re going to find out tomorrow.

  • aquifer

    Excellent time to talk about this. The IMF seem to have noticed that austerity measures are deflationary and counterproductive. In the EU Local wages and local jobs are becoming a smaller part of the global market economy, so that ‘go get a job’ is a less useful answer for the person or for a national economy based solely on capitalist markets. There is increased global competition for basic resources such as water food and energy, so a sensible conversation about welfare could start there.

    Welfare without work is deflationary, divisive, and unsustainable over generations. We should be able to offer work, or even just paid activity, to most.

    What jobs need doing?

    What jobs are worth doing?

    How to make it easier to employ the right people for short tasks?

    How can the state save money for people who cannot or will not save themselves? A personal combined welfare and pension scheme, so that those who chose to have children will pay themselves eventually? One way to get people to bring children up to work is that the state will provide less in old age.

    Welfare has been based on the expectation of full time long term employment rather than education part-time or self-employment.

    A computer system can cope with lots of changes so the first person we should make unemployed is the person behind the desk at the dole.