This wasn't an easy decision. I was born and brought up in South Yorkshire and both my father and grandfather were miners so socialism has been in my heart and soul since birth. A degree in Philosophy didn't dislodge it from either, but rather settled it deeper, as did having children. I haven't given up on the ideas, I just don't think Labour are coming up with the goods at the moment.
The Greens haven't a hope in hell of getting anywhere in my constituency, but then neither have Labour, so I'm won't be doing anything significant by shifting my vote, but it will certainly make me feel better. Whilst reading their website to double check I knew what I was getting into, I came across the moveyourmoney initiative and their current campaign "Divest" encouraging people to withdraw support from banks that invest in fossil fuels, which is pretty much all of them as far as I can see, with HSBC being the biggest offender (surprise, surprise). My own bank is up there too.
What struck me the most about all this was the fact that I simply hadn't put 2 and 2 together as regards my recent investment in oil with climate change and the importance of creating a sustainable energy policy for future generations. I suppose I'd been telling myself that the amount involved was so small that it didn't make a difference where I put it, and that I probably had money in all sorts of things I don't approve of without even knowing it, so it was pointless being sniffy about this buy. Well in this particular case I do know and it does make a difference, so this morning I've sold my BlackRock World Mining Trust shares, taken a bit of profit and set up an account with Abundance which is a crowdfunding platform that allows you to invest in renewable energy projects.
This is the first project on Abundance to issue an Income Growth Debenture. An Income Growth Debenture is a long-term unsecured certificate that gives the holder the right to receive a defined amount of interest income each year (for Oakapple Berwickshire 3.3% for the first year - excluding the 0.4% Pioneer Bonus), which increases annually (for Oakapple Berwickshire by 3.3%) for the life of the investment. The amount paid out is not linked to the amount of energy produced and is paid in addition to repayment of your capital in the form of regular Cash Returns.
I'm not quite sure how this all fits together. If anyone can throw any light on it please do leave a comment. Although debentures are meant to be held for the long term you can sell via a bulletin board on the site and they do state that all sales so far have been "positive" - ie have made a profit. There is obviously some risk to all this but the amount I would be investing would be quite small (£1,500), in fact you have to confirm that you won't invest more than 10% of your assets on the platform when you create an account, and I really like the double whammy of sustainable energy and social housing.
The events this week also prompted me to look at where I hold my current account, and, as a result, I've decided to switch to NationWide which come out with a MoveYourMoney score of 64/100. On top of that their Flex Account pays 5% interest on up to £2,500 for a year so we'll be setting up two (one joint for our everyday banking and one in my name to manage the rental income) and closing down everything we have with Halifax. Now I just have to work out what to do with the bulk of our cash which is sitting in a Santander account.
It's been a busy weekend but I feel better for it. I've done a lot of reading that has given me back hope that despite the events of last week, there are plenty of people out there who are working hard to give us opportunities to invest, save and use our money in a positive way so that we can secure not just our own future, but the future for us all.
I hope that at some time I will feel that I can also re-invest in the Labour Party and see it as the Party of the future but at the moment this isn't the case. Time will tell..
Labour? It is in transition. It knows the socialism it used to champion no longer functions: it knows neoliberalism does not work either. It experimented with Blairism, which for all its electoral success did not address the fundamental weaknesses in the British system. It knows it is a party for the mass of Britain, with roots that must remain in the workplace and the day-to-day life of ordinary people. It is dedicated to their flourishing, and to the justice that must underpin it. The country at different times in its history has looked to its left and right traditions to do the correct thing. It now needs Labour to complete its transition, to pick up this programme, or something like it, and implement the change we need to show how good we can be. "
Will Hutton, extract from "How Good We Can Be: Ending the Mercenary Society and Building a Great Country".