How does this lead to a new politics?
No doubt, reading this site, you are asking yourself – well this is all very nice, but how does it lead to a new politics?
Ours is what we call a ‘soft power’ strategy. Rather than rely on the ‘hard’ mechanisms of competing with other parties for a finite number of seats in Parliament, we are going to concentrate, for now, on building influence and attraction.
Firstly, the act of joining the dots, creating the network of networks within society, is itself an act of soft power. Networks are relationships, shared passions, connectivity – all soft instruments that can, when dynamised, develop immense attraction, command attention.
These are not just the on-line, entrepreneurial networks of the Facebook generation, but the long established networks of social cohesion - schools, football, dance and drama clubs, churches – wherever the desire for a good society lurks. Civil society.
Secondly, establishing these open spaces of creativity – by building laboratories, works of social art, "constitutes" – will give rise to ideas that would not occur within the political bubble, where only 2% of the people play.
Whether they be ideas for new departments, new cultures or entirely new narratives about the world we live in – we will be infecting political thinking like a virus.
If you have any doubt about this, think of Mumsnet, which began as a website for mothers, mostly talking animatedly amongst themselves. Such was the energy they generated and grew, that today every politician hoping to swing some votes, will visit their offices, asking to be interviewed and shaping their policies accordingly. That’s soft power.
Or UKIP, with its one seat in Parliament, still able to change the course of history through crafting a compelling narrative. They understood that the deep need for control over your life, personal and national status and a sense of community belonging, beat any simple notion about money or jobs offered by the mainstream parties. Talking to people in ways you can be heard – that’s soft power.
Or take the constant advance, over the last few decades, of a progressive Scottish politics, based around self-determination and constitutional issues. But those issues have been fully intermixed with, and articulated by, Scotland's artistic and creative communities. They've imagined incessantly how they will "work in the early days of a better nation", in Alasdair Gray's words. And that creative work provided the mood music for a deep and wide civic pursuit of the Scottish "good society". That's also soft power.
The bigger question we now all face is, how do we follow on? If Trump and others are harnessing people’s emotions for divisive, retrogressive outcomes, have those people set off down a road of no return? What’s the better story about human nature that we could tell?
About our natural caring natures, our inventiveness and friendliness? About our enjoyment of novelty, humour, and play? About our deep yearning for meaning and purpose in their lives?
Forging that Alternative story, working with people across the country, is how we change our politics.