Sunday, 31 August 2008
Saturday, 30 August 2008
Green Party Conference - Eastern Region steps up
Thursday, 28 August 2008
Today's Daily Politico: me!
'Rupert's Read' makes the Top Twenty Green Blogs!
Green Party Inaugral Leadership Contest Approaches Climax
All Green Party members and supporters want a Party that works well, a Party that punches above its weight, a Party that will deliver the successes and the desperately-needed policy-changes nationally that Greens are already achieving all over the country, locally.
A key part of this extension to the national stage is happening now by the very act of our holding our first-ever election for a leader (the election is by postal ballot, and will formally end at Conference). But this, and our growing professionalism across the piste, is not enough. We need a leader who is engaging, inspiring and who can captivate the hearts and souls of the electorate. We need a leader who ouzes warmth and passion, someone who can reach people from all backgrounds in society. We need a leader who can lead us to the national stage with confidence and conviction, with dedication and determination.
Total Politics has been covering the contest, with Daily Politico interviews with Caroline Lucas and Ashley Gunstock, for leader. I'm voting for Caroline Lucas, simply because I believe that she is nothing less than all these things which my party needs. In fact, I believe she is the best politician in Britain today - the most inspirational, the most intelligent, the most passionate, the most on-the-mark - and never mind just in the Green Party.
With Lucas at the helm, our momentum should snowball: and with excellent timing, because the next two years are the biggest opportunity the Greens have had for twenty years. If we get a strong result in the European elections next year (traditionally the election in which we do best, because it is by proportional representation voting), then this will only build. Such clear momentum will give us the platform we need in order to get into the Westminster Parliament for the first time, in the likely 2010 general election.
With Lucas as leader, we have in prospect the chance of converting the strong support that we have enjoyed in local and Euro elections into a Westminster win. A leadership team of Caroline Lucas and Adrian Ramsay (my close friend and colleague on Norwich City Council, who is standing unopposed for the Deputy Leader spot) will, I believe, change the face of British politics forever, by seeing the Green Party's Parliamentary representation mushroom, in Brussels, and at last come to be, in Westminster.
It is a time for greenwashers like David Cameron and wannabes like Nick Clegg to watch out. I believe that Caroline Lucas will win this election, and that pretty soon it will become evident that she, unlike them, is the real deal: in short, that the most talented opposition politician that there is, waiting to take on Brown, is a Green.
Wednesday, 27 August 2008
Councillor Read vows to fight for the people of North Walsham against selfish big business
Norwich Green Party councilor and lead candidate for MEP Rupert Read attended a meeting at North Walsham Community Centre last night, 26 August 2008. The meeting took place to hear both sides of the raging debate between waste transfer company HFS and local residents of
HFS have applied for planning permission to carry 74,999,999 tons of waste to and from their Spa Common waste transfer station, and have purchased several large tankers for this purpose, including 44 ton HGVs, the largest permitted on British roads.
Local residents object to the serious danger these large vehicles pose to cyclists and pedestrians in the town generally, but particularly on the little country lanes leading to the HFS facility, and down
Rupert Read addressed the gathering of 180 people saying it seemed clear that a lot of them were determined to do everything in their power to stop "this monstrous plan" from going ahead. When he asked them "Am I right?", he received a resounding cry of "Yes!" from the hall. He then announced that the Norfolk Green Party are with them all the way in this struggle, and sat down to loud applause.
When another Green Party activist in the crowd asked co-owner of HFS Alastair Wait if he believed he had increased or decreased the quality of life of residents in the area, Wait had to admit that he was decreasing it. This earned Wait the retort (from said activist) that he was therefore obviously interested in his own profits over the well being of the local community and Wait's morality was questioned.
Rupert Read will today be placing a formal planning objection to HFS's application. He said: "Norfolk Green Party will stand shoulder to shoulder with the local residents to fight this plan on the grounds that the location and road infrastructure is grossly unfit for purpose, and poses a real danger to the general public. If this application were to go ahead, and if there were then a serious accident involving one of these mega-lorries and a child, I don't believe that any resident, Councillor or indeed business-man could really ever forgive themselves."
Tuesday, 26 August 2008
Exposed: City's Secret Bail Hostels
At least four bail hostels run by a private company are operating in secret locations across the city - with families living nearby unaware of their existence.
The hostels - which are normal homes in residential areas - are used to house people awaiting trial in the city or released early from prison and wearing electronic tags and under curfew.
Although only prisoners classed at a low risk of offending and who are deemed safe are placed at these addresses, families living yards from the properties have not been informed of their existence or consulted about them.
The Evening News investigated the issue after we reported that at least one hostel was being run in the city earlier this year.
Our findings have revealed there are at least four in the Norwich area, including three in the Norwich City Council area and one in Old Catton, part of Broadland. A suggestion that there was a fifth hostel could not be confirmed.
We are aware of their exact locations but are not publishing them for safety reasons.
Today, councillors in the area affected and people living near to the hostels hit out at the fact that they were not consulted.
Rupert Read, Green Party member for Wensum ward, where one of the hostels is based, said: “It is unacceptable that our council is being bypassed and not consulted over the location of this new bail hostels in the local area by a private company.
“It's imperative that councils are involved from day one in helping to decide where to locate any proposed bail hostel.
“ClearSprings is contractually obliged to consult before locating its hostels. I cannot believe that they haven't even consulted me and my fellow Wensum ward local councillors on this.
“I am outraged by their casual disregard of the rules and of the safety of my constituents.”
The hostels are run by ClearSprings, an Essex-based company charged with managing hundreds of bail hostels nationally.
The firm came under fire earlier this year when it emerged it had failed to inform MPs and council chiefs that it was operating bail hostels in their area.
The Evening News understands that upon finding out about the hostels, both Norwich City and Broadland councils have carried out investigations to determine whether the firm was breaching regulations by operating the homes as commercial enterprises without planning consent. These were dropped as technically no change of use had taken place.
Norfolk Constabulary has also confirmed it has been called out to deal with suspected crimes which have taken place at the Old Catton hostel.
In a recent case at Norwich Magistrates Court one tenant was cleared of an assault at the hostel on grounds of self-defence after a fight broke out at a barbecue there.
The Evening News was able to gain access to the Old Catton hostel. A former tenant there told how drug use and heavy drinking was the norm among the other occupants who stayed there during his time there.
People living near the hostel in Old Catton said they were not consulted before it was set up in January.
One mother, who didn't want to be named, living yards from the premises said she had seen an increase in police activity since it was established.
She said: “We should have been told about the hostel. I am concerned about it because I have small children. We have seen a lot more police activity since they moved there, including in the last week or so. It makes me uneasy.”
But a woman living next door to the hostel said she had been informed before the premises was taken over by ClearSprings and said she had had no problems with the tenants, who had also helped her with chores such as mowing the lawn.
Another woman, who didn't want to be identified but who has lived on the street for 30 years, added: “We should have been told. It could lead to more crime or anything on the estate.”
The Local Government Association, representing 400 councils nationally, recently accused ClearSprings of a “shocking lack of consultation”, with families living just yards from the hostels not informed about their use and councils given little or no say about where they are sited or how many are set up in their area.
Hazel Harding, chair of the LGA's safer communities board, said: “Some councillors are understandably furious that they have not been adequately consulted on what is happening in their area.
“It's pure folly to dump this kind of accommodation in the middle of a residential street without properly asking for the council's views.
“The failure to consult genuinely with councils gives the unfortunate impression that they are established under a veil of secrecy. This doesn't help the people on bail or on early release who come up against resentment from local people who have been unnecessarily alarmed.”
Broadland Council leader Simon Woodbridge said ClearSprings had contacted the council's housing and benefits teams last year to ensure payments of the benefits were made to the company.
He said the hostels did not contravene planning rules and performed an important role in offender management.
He added: “We have got to make sure we don't allow offenders or ex-offenders to carry on offending. We need to break that cycle and one way to help do that is to recognise accommodation is an integral part of that if it is in a managed environment. As far as I am concerned these are perfectly safe and well controlled.”
Norwich City Council spokeswoman Amy Lyall added: “We're aware of three premises operated by ClearSprings in the city.
“The city council is not planning any enforcement action on these premises. One has previously been investigated, and there was not found to be a problem so the case was closed. If any issues do arise, we will take appropriate action.”
A spokesman for South Norfolk Council said the authority was not aware of any ClearSprings bail hostels operating in its area.
A spokeswoman for Norfolk Constabulary said the police had been called to the Old Catton hostel in the past but declined to say what actions were taken or specify any crimes believed to have taken place there.
She added: “If anyone reports crimes there we would investigate them. We take any reports of criminal activity seriously and are aware there have been problems there before.
“It is privately run, we have spoken to the company when we had reports and worked with them, but do not have any role dealing with their running as it is a probation issue.”
ClearSprings referred all media enquiries to the Ministry of Justice.
An MOJ spokeswoman said: “ClearSprings has a contractual obligation to consult the police, enforcement agencies and local authorities to inform the area in which that property will be opened.
“People in this accommodation are mostly on bail, that means they haven't been convicted of any crime and haven't been remanded in custody in court as they are not deemed to be a threat to the public.
“When people are released on bail they mostly go to their homes and their neighbours are not consulted then. All these are doing is providing rental accommodation for people if they haven't got anywhere to stay.
“Defendants who pose a threat to the public continue to be held in custody. Anyone accused of sexual offences, arson or deemed a threat to staff or other residents are not housed in these properties.
“More than half of those in this accommodation are on bail and others are on home detention curfews and assessed as low risk on entry and monitored in their stay and liable to recall to prison if they break their terms.”
And she said they were not truly bail hostels, which require supervision, but “approved premises” for those released on bail who are not deemed to pose a risk.
A visit to North Walsham, this evening
Monday, 25 August 2008
Georgia and Iraq: the price of hypocrisy
GREEN LEADER CANDIDATE: “GREEN NEW DEAL” RENDERS OLD GREY POLITICS OBSOLETE
I've taken this release straight off Caroline Lucas's new website. There could not be a more important or contemporary topic:
As the economy hits the buffers, Green leadership candidate Caroline Lucas called for the party to back a 'Green New Deal', to tackle the credit crunch, soaring oil prices and the costs of climate change.
Caroline Lucas said:
"These overlapping events threaten to develop into a perfect storm, of a severity which hasn't been seen since the Great Depression, with potentially devastating consequences.
"As one of the people who helped launch the 'Green New Deal', I'll be asking the party to back the aim of implementing a 'Green New Deal' at the top of our policy-agenda for the Party.
"The 'triple crunch' of financial meltdown, climate change and 'peak oil' has its origins firmly rooted in the current model of globalisation. Financial deregulation has facilitated the creation of almost limitless credit.
"With this credit boom has come irresponsible patterns of lending, creating inflated bubbles in assets such as property, and powering environmentally unsustainable economic growth and consumption.
"Only the Green Party has the policies to respond to this unprecedented situation. A Green New Deal is the key to solving the deeply-worrying crisis we face; there is no business-as-usual solution.
"If elected as leader of the Green Party, I would want to make the case directly against the policies of Brown, Cameron and Clegg and for a Green New Deal: for a structural transformation of the regulation of national and international financial systems, and for a sustained programme to invest in and deploy energy conservation and renewable energies, coupled with effective demand management.
"We can beat – and turn back – the rising price of heating your home, the cost of living and the threat to our livelihoods.
"I believe that over the next two years the Green Party can change the political agenda and – through growing our representation in the Westminster and Brussels Parliaments – can start to affect policy radically and rapidly."
Dr. Lucas was one of the 9 members of the 'Green New Deal group' that has designed the 'Green New Deal' plan.
Other members include Larry Elliott, Economics Editor of the Guardian, Tony Juniper, former Director of Friends of the Earth, Jeremy Leggett, founder and Chairman of Solarcentury and SolarAid, & Ann Pettifor, former head of the Jubilee 2000 debt relief campaign.
Support grows for Green Pres. candidate
One important thing is that enough people back McKinney to put some serious pressure on Obama not to sell out any more, especially now, at the Dems' Convention. One encouraging straw in the wind: Obama has been talking more strongly again about taxing the rich and spreading the benefits, over the last week: http://business.timesonline.co.uk/tol/business/columnists/article4596341.ece
I believe that Obama is the best U.S. Dem. Presidential candidate since Carter. However, that is saying precious little. Let's back McKinney, to put pressure on Obama and to build a longer-term alternative.
Thursday, 21 August 2008
Political history will be made at Green Party Conference
That prospect is perhaps now within sight. For, in a fortnight's time, the Green Party will make history. Having had a system of ‘Principal Speakers' for the last generation, the Party is currently holding its first-ever election for a Leader (see here and here for the history of how this came to be). The entire membership has been balloted; the final votes will be cast at our national Party Conference on Sept. 5; the result will come out on Sept. 6.
My friend and colleague Adrian Ramsay is unopposed for Deputy Leader. For the Leadership position itself there is an intriguing contest going on, between our MEP and current Principal Speaker Caroline Lucas, and Ashley Gunstock, a grassroots member mainly well-known for his acting appearances on TV's "The Bill".
I will be voting for Lucas, simply because I believe that she is nothing less than the best politician - the most inspirational, the most intelligent, the most passionate, the most on-the mark - in Britain today, never mind just in the Green Party.
In any case, whoever is elected, it will be a historic moment when our first-ever Leader finally stands up to give their inaugural address to Party Conference on the morning of Monday September 8th. Our momentum should then snowball: and with excellent timing, because the next two years are the biggest opportunity the Greens have had for twenty years.
In 1989, we scored 15% in the Euro-elections. In 1999, with a fairer electoral system, we broke through and got our first two MEPs elected. In 2009, we aim to at least double that number. Such clear momentum will give us the platform we need in order to get into the Westminster Parliament for the first time, in the likely 2010 general election.
Within Brighton Pavilion's constituency boundaries, the Green Party took 30% of the vote to Labour's 25% at the last local elections, a share we need only to hold in the next general election to elect Caroline Lucas, taking the seat from Labour's new candidate. Across Norwich South Westminster constituency in the 2008 local elections, the Green Party came first, with 33% of the vote, three thousand votes ahead of Labour, meaning that Adrian Ramsay would be elected, by defeating the unpopular Charles Clarke.
With a Leader for the first time, we have in prospect the chance of converting the strong support that we have enjoyed in local and Euro elections into a Westminster win. A Leadership team of Lucas and Ramsay will, I believe, change the face of British politics forever, by seeing the Green Party's Parliamentary representation mushroom, in Brussels, and at last come to be, in Westminster.
Monday, 18 August 2008
We have the right policies. So how we make them fully popular?
And the single most crucial book on this in recent years, as discussed below, is THE POLITICAL BRAIN by Drew Westen. Everyone intereted in political communications should read - and apply to our own situation - this book.
If we Greens fail to make a passionate appeal that moves far beyond policy-wonkery, if we fail to place believable leaders and personalities centrally in our messages, then we will fail. It is that simple. But we could succeed, brilliantly, if we improve our way of presenting ourselves and communicating ourselves and our vision...
GREEN LEADERSHIP CANDIDATE LUCAS SETS OUT HER EURO ELECTION GOALS - INCL. VICTORY IN EASTERN REGION!
Lucas sets out her Green Euro election goals
Caroline Lucas, standing to be Green Party Leader, today said that the European Elections next year will be a vital opportunity to take the Green message to new people, and to return a record number of MEPs.
"Greens this year need to show that we are a rising political force, that cannot be ignored.
"Whether we're talking about employment rights, animal rights or renewable energy, Greens in the EU are already making a difference.
"But in politics, the proof people listen to is the number of votes we get, and how many Green MEPs are elected.
"It will be a tough election for us, because higher thresholds will mean we need more votes to return each MEP.
"So we need the strongest performance we can deliver, both to return our two sitting MEPs, and to gain new ones, in the North West and East England.
"All the time and energy put in by activists and members are absolutely worth the gains we can make.
"I give my heartfelt thanks to everyone in the party who is already working incredibly hard to make this happen, and urge everyone to focus on the task ahead and redouble their efforts.
"By getting more Greens elected to Europe, we will be helping defend social and environmental rights, and to create a more transparent and accountable EU: something other parties consistently fail to do.
"In my experience, I can tell you that every Green MEP is worth ten from the other parties. So let's make it happen!"
New EA Head endorses what the Green Party has been saying for years...
Abandon homes to the rising sea, warns Britain's new environment chief
In his first interview since taking office, Lord Smith of Finsbury says Britain faces hard choices over which areas of our coast to defend and which to allow the sea to reclaim. He said detailed work was already far advanced on identifying areas of the east and south coasts which were most vulnerable to erosion, and called on ministers to give emergency help to families whose homes will be lost.
In a wide-ranging interview, Lord Smith, a former cabinet minister, also warns that the Government is not taking the environment seriously in a series of key projects. He says *Building a third runaway at Heathrow Airport would be a "mistake" because of pollution and aircraft noise; Plans for a new generation of coal-fired electric power stations should be abandoned until the Government is certain they will not pump out harmful gases. The proposed Severn barrage will destroy fish stocks and wreck bird habitats".
Lord Smith disclosed that the agency was drawing up projections of where sea erosion will do most damage over the next five, 25, 50 and 100 years. It is also factoring in the additional problem of the threat to low-lying areas from rising sea levels. "This is the most difficult issue we are going to face as an agency," he said. "We know the sea is eating away at the coast in quite a number of places, primarily but not totally exclusively on the east and south coasts. It's a particularly huge issue in East Anglia, but in quite a number of other areas as well."
Lord Smith, a former culture secretary, promised to do his "level best to try to defend communities where there are significant numbers of properties under threat and where it's possible to find engineering solutions".
But he said the agency, working with ministers, would have to identify "priority areas" and warned: "We are almost certainly not going to be able to defend absolutely every bit of coast it would simply be an impossible task both in financial terms and engineering terms." Suggesting that parts of north-east Norfolk and Suffolk faced the most immediate danger, Lord Smith promised to work closely with the communities involved to achieve as much "consensus" as possible over which coastal stretches to protect.
He said: "We will publish next year details of the work that's been done, where we think the particular threats are, where we think there is current defence in place. We will begin to talk with communities where we think defence is not a viable option."
He also said ministers could no longer rely on insurance companies to cover families who lost their homes, suggesting they would have to be rehoused at taxpayers' expense. He said: "We need to start having a serious discussion with government about what options can be put in place."
Lord Smith put himself on a collision course with his former colleagues over a number of important infrastructure projects championed in Whitehall. He dismissed the Department of Transport's insistence that building a new runway at Heathrow could be environmentally sustainable. "The increases in volume of air traffic and the consequent increases in congestion on the ground are, from the analysis that we've done, pretty unavoidable," he said. "I think the Government is making a mistake and I will carry on telling them that I think they are making a mistake."
He opposed building a new coal-fired power station at Kingsnorth in north Kent with others to follow because he is not satisfied the promised technology to "capture and store" carbon would have been developed in time for its planned opening in the next decade. "My view would be that we should not go ahead with the development of a new coal-fired generation unless those [clean coal] technologies are in place and we can clean up the emissions."
Although he supported using the river Severn's huge tidal power to generate electricity, he said he was alarmed at the Government's support for a fixed barrier. "Effectively you would be destroying the fish populations of everything up the river system from the barrier. That is a major environmental downside."
Sunday, 17 August 2008
Vote Green to keep out the BNP in Eastern
GREENS: KEY ROLE IN COMBATING BNP SAYS LUCAS, LEADER CANDIDATE
Caroline Lucas, who is standing to be the Green Party's first leader in September, today issued a stark warning that only the Green Party has the answers to combat the BNP.
She was adding to a growing national debate, led by the Observer, highlighting that Britain needs the Greens to be the growing force in politics, not the BNP.
"The rise of the BNP has been rapid. In the absence of political hope, voters have turned to them as a political protest. Every council seat gained, together with the recent London Assembly seat they have won, have been targeted towards promoting their leader, Nick Griffin, to a position of power.
"Britain has faced down the rise of the far right in tough economic times before, and it must do so again.
"It's time for people to come off the sidelines and re-engage the British public with politics they can believe in.
"Unlike Labour, Greens will never pander to racism and prejudice – but we will work for a better future for everyone, wherever they live.
"Our Councillors are constantly striving to tackle unemployment, poverty and poor housing, the very things that create the bitterness and sense of abandonment that the BNP attempts to exploit.
"Green Councillors work hard on the ground, and never take their wards for granted, as so many other councillors do.
"The Green Party is playing its part in promoting positive, progressive politics wherever we can. We urge anyone who wants to take racism and prejudice out of politics to join us and work for a better future, for everyone."
The Observer today outlines why the Greens must beat the BNP
Saturday, 16 August 2008
Caroline Lucas as the 'daily politico'
Friday, 15 August 2008
GREEN COUNCILLOR CALLS FOR ACTION ON REPORT SHOWING BIAS AGAINST ETHNIC MINORITY LAWYERS
GREEN COUNCILLOR CALLS FOR ACTION ON REPORT SHOWING BIAS AGAINST
ETHNIC MINORITY LAWYERS
Green Councillor Maya de Souza, today raised concerns at the
conclusions of a report showing the disproportionate targeting of
black and asian lawyers by the Solicitors Regulatory Authority.
Councillor de Souza has represented Highgate ward in Camden since 2006
and is a member of the government's 14-strong Black, Asian and
Minority Ethnic Women Councillors' Taskforce. The taskforce was set up
earlier this year to develop practical ways to encourage women from
minorities to become councillors and champions of their communities.
She is also a qualified solicitor.
The report, published by Lord Ouseley on 14th August, is the result of
an independent review commissioned by the SRA in response to data
published by the Law Society in 2006. This showed that black and
minority ethnic lawyers were disproportionately affected by regulation.
Councillor de Souza's response concludes that the report released
today highlights the continuing presence of discrimination in many
areas of society, and that much work is still needed before
organisations like the SRA can claim to be truly fair and even-handed.
She says: "I hope to see the Law Society, the SRA and organisations
representing BME solicitors work together to tackle these problems and
show other organisations what can be done."
Councillor de Souza's response:
"The Ouseley Review found 'evidence of some stereotyping' within the
SRA, which led to an assumption of guilt in respect of lawyers from
some communities even before an investigation had begun. It also
pointed to the focus of regulation on sole practitioners (a higher
proportion of black and asian lawyers are sole practitioners) as a
reason for this discrimination.
"It found evidence of a greater proportion of BME solicitors referred
to the Solicitors Disciplinary Board, a greater proportion of cases
where a decision was made to intervene in the practise and a
disproportionate number barred from student applications or admission
to the roll.
"While making clear its findings of institutional racism, the report
also makes a broad range of recommendations to help elminate this,
from applying equality and diversity strategies to working with the
Law Society to develop better systems of support and guidance.
"The upside of this review is that it's clear that the public sector
equality duties, which have led to impact assessments being carried
out, are leading to proper investigation of practises that would
previously remain hidden – something that members of the public
suspect but cannot establish.
"It also reveals how affected we all are by stereotypes of different
communities and how this affects the ability of people to be
scrupulously fair. This is something that we in the UK pride ourselves
on and I hope that this report will lead to consideration as to how we
can surmount this problem if we are to be a fair multi-cultural society.
"For the legal profession it also raises other issues – why do more
ethnic minorities become sole practitioners? What are the barriers to
them achieving success in larger firms and how can this be tackled? Do
sole practitioners require greater assistance and support?
"This issue of support and guidance is of increasing importance as
fees for legal aid practitioners are cut and lawyers in this sector,
who are disproportionately BME, will have to operate on lower incomes.
"There is a lot more work to be done to address these issues as well
as the disproportionate representation in certain aspects of work of
the SRA. I hope to see the Law Society, the SRA and organizations
representing BME solicitors work together to tackle these problems and
show other organisations what can be done."
Elect Caroline Lucas as Green Party Leader!
Wednesday, 13 August 2008
Greens are the clean, honest transparent choice in Europe - Official
No surprise that it was the Green Party that scored highest, with 100% for transparency, using a non-profit making Trust to employ all Green MEP staff (http://openeuropeblog.blogspot.com/2008/06/transparency-initiative-update.html ). If you want a transparent, honest Europe, you can vote Green; a vote for anyone else means more of the same old....
Tory blunder - Green response
So much for Cameron's caring sharing image! This proposal is insulting to northern English people.
Tuesday, 12 August 2008
The SPECTATOR reveals the true face of Toryism -- the very opposite of Green
The SPECTATOR reveals the true face of Toryism -- the very opposite of Green
E.U. May Force MI5 to share Intelligence - Green response
I am bloggining today to express my concern over our intelligence services being forced to share intelligence with the
There is a feeling in
And we know that the intelligence agencies often get it wrong. When you consider the excesses of the CIA since the 1950s – they planned assassinating Fidel Castro by placing an exploding shell on a beach he frequented, by poisoning a cigar that would kill him if smoked, by spiking him with LSD so he would humiliate himself in public, and by poisoning him so his beard would fall out so he would lose the support of the Cuban public – the term "intelligence agencies" almost seems to be an oxymoron. And more recently, they of course got it so utterly wrong when they made the case for war in
I say the latter. I pledge that, as your MEP, I would fight hard to stop any deal that would see European intelligence routinely sent over to the States.
Monday, 11 August 2008
The problems facing city's cyclists
With cycling in Norwich coming under the spotlight again in recent weeks, KATE SCOTTER got on her bike to find out what kind of difficulties cyclists face on a daily basis.
And she discovered that simple changes could be the key to getting people out of their cars and onto two wheels.
Every cyclist has their own gripe about biking in the city, whether it is confusing cycle paths, badly maintained routes or having to ride closer to cars, buses and lorries than is comfortable.
But while some might see Norwich as a cycle-friendly city cyclists will tell you it still has some way to go to match its East Anglia neighbour Cambridge.
Earlier this year, Green Party and Lib Dem councillors urged the city council to carry out a feasibility study to develop a comprehensive cycling network in Norwich.
The calls came just days after the government announced a dozen places that were set to receive a slice of £100m government cash to improve cycling facilities - a list Norwich was never going to feature on as Norfolk County Council decided not to put a bid forward.
But what actually needs to be improved? What is it about this medieval city that makes it so difficult to get about on two wheels?
Problems Kate found included:
The junction at the bottom of Rouen Road and King Street - the continuous flow of traffic makes it hard for cyclists to get across.
Marriotts Way and similar off-road cycle paths, such as Marston Lane - overgrown.
Dereham Road - okay city-bound because there is a bus lane but too narrow in the opposite direction.
Newmarket Road - the bus lane on the city side of the ring road is poorly maintained as is the off-road bike path the other side of the roundabout (although this is being resurfaced). Plans for HGVS to use bus/cycle lane is a major concern.
London Street - want it to be opened up to cyclists out of hours to bring it in line with Gentleman's Walk and Timberhill.
Bluebell Road - poor surface and often overgrown.
Junction at Bracondale and King Street - badly planned for cyclists.
Route to Hethersett - off-road section beside the A11 is a very rough surface and the bike path beside the B1172 is poorly maintained.
Bike paths end all of a sudden, for example at Martineau Lane where there is an off-road bike path that suddenly leads into a petrol station forecourt and bikes have to go into the road where cars are turning into the petrol station, heading towards the lane for the bypass or going straight on the ring road.
Sprowston roundabout at the Brickmakers - on the north of the roundabout there are bus/cycle lanes but on any other approach the cyclists are ignored and at risk.
Cyclists in the city said simple changes were needed to make cycling in Norwich a more pleasant experience.
Keen cyclist and Green Party's spokesman for transport Rupert Read said: “We need the streets to be safer for cyclists. The perceived lack of safety is absolutely an essential reason as to why people don't cycle as much as what they would like to do.
“Having a 20mph speed restriction throughout the city, as planned, will help and junctions are very important. There are a lot of junctions where there are advanced stop lines but there are quite a number of places that don't where they could do with them, such as the intersection of Dereham and Bowthorpe roads.
“Another thing is making life easy for cyclists in terms of getting from A to B. We need more contra flow for cyclists in the city's streets, like Goat Lane, and pedestrian areas like London Street to be opened up to cyclists out of hours.
“A lot of things we are talking about wouldn't cost too much and are not too difficult to do.”
Article continues here
Green Party leadership election ballot hit my doormat!
Caroline Lucas in the _Independent_ today, answering questions from me among many others
Confiscations by police at climate camp
Police harassment of climate campers - video footage
Sunday, 10 August 2008
Labour Government Complacency on Climate Change Exposed [Eastern Region Press Release]
The Government has relied on a system for carbon accounts, that whilst internationally agreed, excludes emissions from aviation, shipping and imported goods. Yet these have been growing sharply due to the surge in cheap flights and as multinational companies move their manufacturing abroad, particularly to the Far East. Adding those catagories on to the UK's emissions total actually makes the UK's emissions 18 per cent higher. It also means that the Government has failed the climate policy of decoupling emissions from the economy.
The reports have come from the Stockholm Environment Institute (SEI) a respected institute based at York University. One of them, which was for the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA), showed that rather than going down 5 per cent as the Government claimed, CO2 emissions have gone up 18 per cent between 1992 and 2004 when all emissions are counted.
According to the BBC, the Government received these results in February, but sat on them until July. It then sent out an "obscure" press release on 2 July.
In a seperate development, one of the Government's chief scientific advisers has said that the UK should prepare for a 4 degrees C rise in temperatures.
In policy areas such as flood protection, agriculture and coastal erosion Professor Bob Watson said the country should plan for the effects of a 4C global average rise on pre-industrial levels, double the 2C limit agreed to by the EU.
"There is no doubt that we should aim to limit changes in the global mean surface temperature to 2C above pre-industrial," Professor Watson, the chief scientific adviser to the DEFRA, told the Guardian this week.
"But given this is an ambitious target, and we don't know in detail how to limit greenhouse gas emissions to realise a 2 degree target, we should be prepared to adapt to 4C."
Olympic Smog - its not-so-hidden message
If anyone has any doubts about the seriousness of the environmental challenge facing us as a species, just sit back and watch the Olympic Games.
With smog literally hanging in the air despite Herculean efforts from the Chinese authorities, there is surely a real danger to the athletes from around the world taking part.
With Chinese carbon and particulate emissions expected to increase dramatically over the coming decades, as well as those in
And why are there all these dangerous emissions? Because international capital is moving to China and India to exploit their relatively light environmental regulations -- that is what happens, under unrestrained globalized neo-liberalism, this is what happens without Greens in charge -- and because we -- we Brits, we Americas, etc. -- are still buying / consuming masses of the unnecessary stuff that these factories are producing.
The Olympics, by contrast, is supposed to symbolize being the best as a part of a wider team or national effort. Everyone pulling together, not just for personal gain, but for shared goals. We now have the opportunity today as people around the world to compete in a new shared and unifying cause and engage resolutely in a new spiritual and moral challenge. A challenge that requires the most determined team effort in history to resolve. A challenge that requires the most radical and co-ordinated action we can deliver. A challenge that needs the spirit of the Blitz with people all around the world pulling together, working for the common good of the eco-system we must all share.
Saturday, 9 August 2008
POLICE ARREST CLIMATE CAMP PROTESTER FOR CARRYING VITAMIN C.
Matt Wootton, a Green Party activist, was searched and then arrested at the entrance to the Climate Camp near Kingsnorth in
Only towards the end of the 5 hour period was the substance in question actually tested by the police.
As Mr. Wootton had explained from the beginning to the police, unavailingly, the alleged ‘controlled substance’ in question was in fact Vitamin C…
Said Mr. Wootton, “It is crystal clear that ordinary people such as myself are being targeted for harassment by the police. Senior officers in the police have evidently decided that, if they make the lives of concerned citizens such as myself a misery each time that we try to protest against the damage done to our collective life-support system by the greenhouse gases being burnt into the atmosphere at places like Kingsnorth, then we will give up and go home. I am not so easily put off. But I am concerned about the state of our democracy and our civil liberties, when the police are wasting their time throwing people like me into the cells on a false pretext – when what they ought to be doing is getting out there to catch criminals. I suppose it is easier to harass a climate protester than it is to catch actual criminals…”
Mr. Wootton was denied his legal right (under section 5.6 of Code of Practice C set out in the Police and Criminal Evidence Act 1984) to a telephone call during his 5 hours in police confinement. The police said that they were ‘too busy’ to allow him time to make such a call.
Matt Wootton was released by the police, and reunited with his girlfriend near the Camp, only at half past midnight…
Derek Wall, Green Party Principal Speaker, commented from Kingsnorth:
"This is another example of how over-the-top policing has been at this
year's Climate Camp. It's more proof that the police priority here is
not to protect the public but to suppress legitimate protest."
Friday, 8 August 2008
But, as the generally-excellent Peter Wilby indicates, there are some real problems with it. Goto http://www.newstatesman.com/society/2008/07/thaler-friedman-cameron-social
to check out Wilby's critical review.
Nice day for a green wedding...
Yes to Green Party democracy
Norwich-based Green Party Councillors Conference backs Green New Deal
Tuesday, 5 August 2008
McKinney - not Obama
Well, I've had a marvellous honeymoon/break; and in a few days' time I'll be back in action. Meanwhile, on a very wet day here in Devon, I am dipping my toe back into the blogosphere...
And the first thing I am finding on my 'return' is more and more reason(s) to feel let down by Obama (already!), and to turn instead to the scintillating Green Party nominee for U.S. Pres, black former Congresswoman Cynthia McKinney. Check her our speaking on video, and you'll see what I mean:
McKinney is the real deal. Meanwhile, Obama seems to have opted over the last several weeks more and more for a Clinton (!) -style 'triangulation' approach. On gun control, on Israel and 'national security'... on a a raft of key issues, he is running to the Right in classic 'New Democrat' fashion, and seems afraid to stand up for his values, his record - for what a majority of the U.S. people want.
This could be fatal to him. People - including many activists, young people, enthusiasts abroad such as myself and many other radical and Green bloggers and thinkers in Britain -- flocked to Obama because he actually seemed to believe in something, to have a rhetorical style that echoed the best of predecessors such as Martin Luther King ... and because he seemed to be taking seriously taking the fight to the Republicans. See for example my earlier enthusiastic post:
All that 'fight' seems to have left him. But Obama will lose -- and one of the reasons why is that his supporters will start leaving in droves -- if he takes the lily-livered centrist approach that saw Kerry fail in 2004.
Has Obama's team stopped learning from George Lakoff? Has Obama failed to take in the key messages of Drew Westen's essential book: http://www.thepoliticalbrain.com/videos.php [or http://www.publicaffairsbooks.com/publicaffairsbooks-cgi-bin/display?book=9781586484255 ]?
What Westen teaches us in 'The Political Brain' -- a book which all readers of 'Rupert's Read' should read! -- is that there is no way to achieve lasting political and electoral success without appealing to and activating the values and emotions of one's target audience. One cannot win through policy-wonkery and purely 'rational' debate. One cannot win by simply 'staying positive' no matter what the provocation. ...One has to lead. And one has to take the fight to the other side.
If Obama persists in his centrist strategy, he will lose and he will deserve to lose. And meanwhile he will have burnt all the new political capital that the Democrats had from seeming to have someone and something at last to believe in again.
We want back the Obama who opposed the Republican estate tax cuts (scroll down a bit in http://www.rockridgenation.org/blog/archive/2007/05/29/thinking-points-discussion-of-chapter-8-part-1-the-art-of-arguments to see this). We want back the Obama who gave that great 'More perfect union' speech, pointing a way beyond racism in America: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pWe7wTVbLUU . We want back the Obama who seemed the true heir to Howard Dean, to Martin Luther King, to Franklin Roosevelt.
But there has been little sign of him of late. And if this goes on, absurdly, McCain will win.
Unless Obama recovers himself as a leader, unless we see clear real evidence of his commitment to radical and sensible policies to lead a way forward for his country and for the world on environmental issues, on taxation, on peace with Iran, and so forth, then we should abandon him now.
I am proud to be a supporter of Cynthia McKinney (http://uk.youtube.com/view_play_list?p=4BFAD71E67D10CE3 ). The Green Party's Presidential nominee this time is very strong indeed. If the U.S.A. were really a democracy, then she would be allowed into the televised Presidential debates -- and by God she would give McCain and Obama a run for their money...