Friday, 27 June 2008

Debate with Anthony Barnett over Greens vs. Davis

  The excellent Anthony Barnett, founder of OUR KINGDOM, has replied [ http://www.opendemocracy.net/blog/ourkingdom-theme/anthony-barnett/2008/06/27/are-the-greens-just-silly-sods#comment-463100 ], in a slightly ungracious manner in my view, to my most recent post on Our Kingdom about the Davis byelection [http://www.opendemocracy.net/blog/ourkingdom-theme/rupert-read/2008/06/26/the-real-civil-libertarian-candidate-stands-up ].
My earlier post on Our Kingdom about this [see below] accentuated the positive [about what Davis had done]. This more recent post of mine to which Barnett has now replied [very negatively] accentuates the negative. Is that so wrong? Is it so unfair or unhelpful, to point out how bloody right-wing and unfriendly to freedom this man Davis is, in so many ways?
Let me respond here more positively however to the helpful way in which Barnett brings his reply to me to a close. Barnett suggests the line that the Greens 'OUGHT' in his view to have taken, on this byelection [my reply to these points of Barnett's is in CAPS, for ease of telling us apart]:
 *  We welcome David Davis standing on a platform of civil liberties and insisting that these difficult matters in a age of terrorist attacks can be debated with voters, who are not just populist fodder.
AGREED.
    * We especially welcome his widening the argument of civil liberties to the whole issue of the database state.
AGREED.
    * We are running a candidate in order to support this move and encourage everyone to go to the polls on this great matter.
NO - WE ARE RUNNING A CANDIDATE TO GET AS MANY VOTES AS WE CAN, FOR A STANCE THAT IS QUITE DISTINCT FROM HIS. MUCH MORE SERIOUS ABOUT FREEDOM IN GENERAL AND ABOUT CIVIL LIBERTIES IN PARTICULAR.
    * We feel there will be voters who want to go further than Davis or feel that his Tory policies prevent them from supporting him.
INDEED SO.
    * We therefore offer our record on freedom and civil liberties as an alternative and more thorough platform.
I SUPPOSE YOU COULD PUT IT LIKE THAT.
Together our votes will add up to a great rebuke to the Labour government and its erosion of civil liberties.
DITTO; AND our VOTES WILL ALSO CLEARLY SIGNAL THE DESIRE OF SOME BRITONS TO GO MUCH FARTHER THAN THE PALE SHADOW OF LIBERTY ACTUALLY OFFERED BY DAVIS...

Early coverage of Shan's by-election campaign

_Green party runs against Davis_
Thursday, 26 Jun 2008 11:38
politics.co.uk

_The Greens are standing on a civil liberties platform_

The Green party have begun their by-election campaign against David Davis in
Haltemprice and Howden.

Paradoxically, the party are standing against him on a civil liberties
platform, with claims Mr Davis is too authoritarian.

Shan Oakes, the Green candidate, will be joined on the campaign trail by
veteran gay and human rights activist Peter Tatchell.

Green Party principal speaker Derek Wall said: "This by-election was
supposed to be about civil liberties. But it's been called by a man - David
Davis - who thinks it's okay for the government to lock you up for four
weeks without even telling you what you're supposed to have done.

"David Davis also believes that you should have no right to criticise the
government within a mile of parliament."

"So the Green Party had to stand. Someone had to stand up for civil
liberties."

The emergence of a Green candidate makes an already unique by-election even
more strange. Despite being unable to find someone to stand against him on
an authoritarian or anti-terror platform, Mr Davis seems to have found
someone attacking him from the other direction.

http://www.politics.co.uk/news/opinion-former-index/legal-and-constitutional/green-party-runs-against-davis-$1229110.htm

No ice at the North Pole?

fROM TO-DAY'S _iNDEPENDENT_
_Polar scientists reveal dramatic new evidence of climate change_

By Steve Connor, Science Editor
Friday, 27 June 2008


It seems unthinkable, but for the first time in human history, ice is on
course to disappear entirely from the North Pole this year.

The disappearance of the Arctic sea ice, making it possible to reach the
Pole sailing in a boat through open water, would be one
of the most dramatic - and worrying - examples of the impact of global
warming on the planet. Scientists say the ice at 90 degrees north may well
have melted away by the summer.

"From the viewpoint of science, the North Pole is just another point on the
globe, but symbolically it is hugely important.
There is supposed to be ice at the North Pole, not open water," said Mark
Serreze of the US National Snow and Ice Data Centre in Colorado.

If it happens, it raises the prospect of the Arctic nations being able to
exploit the valuable oil and mineral deposits below these a bed
which have until now been impossible to extract because of the thick sea
ice above.

Seasoned polar scientists believe the chances of a totally ice-free North
Pole this summer are greater than 50:50 because the normally
thick ice formed over many years at the Pole has been blown away and
replaced by huge swathes of thinner ice formed over a single year.

This one-year ice is highly vulnerable to melting during the summer months
and satellite data coming in over recent weeks shows that the
rate of melting is faster than last year, when there was an all-time record
loss of summer sea ice at the Arctic.

"The issue is that, for the first time that I am aware of, the North Pole is
covered with extensive first-year ice - ice that formed last autumn and
winter. I'd say it's even-odds whether the North Pole melts out," said Dr
Serreze.

Each summer the sea ice melts before reforming again during the long Arctic
winter but the loss of sea ice last year was so extensive
that much of the Arctic Ocean became open water, with the water-ice boundary
coming just 700 miles away from the North Pole.

This meant that about 70 per cent of the sea ice present this spring was
single-year ice formed over last winter. Scientists predict that at least 70
per cent of this single-year ice - and perhaps all of it - will melt
completely this summer, Dr Serreze said.

"Indeed, for the Arctic as a whole, the melt season started with even more
thin ice than in 2007, hence concerns that we may even beat
last year's sea-ice minimum. We'll see what happens, a great deal depends
on the weather patterns in July and August," he said.

Ron Lindsay, a polar scientist at the University of Washington in Seattle,
agreed that much now depends on what happens to the
Arctic weather in terms of wind patterns and hours of sunshine. "There's a
good chance that it will all melt away at the North Pole,
it's certainly feasible, but it's not guaranteed," Dr Lindsay said.

The polar regions are experiencing the most dramatic increase in average
temperatures due to global warming and scientists
fear that as more sea ice is lost, the darker, open ocean will absorb more
heat and raise local temperatures even further. Professor

Peter Wadhams of Cambridge University, who was one of the first civilian
scientists to sail underneath the Arctic sea ice in a
Royal Navy submarine, said that the conditions are ripe for an
unprecedented melting of the ice at the North Pole.
"Last year we saw huge areas of the ocean open up, which has never been
experienced before. People are expecting this to continue
this year and it is likely to extend over the North Pole. It is quite likely
that the North Pole will be exposed this summer -
it's not happened before," Professor Wadhams said.

There are other indications that the Arctic sea ice is showing signs of
breaking up. Scientists at the Nasa Goddard Space Flight Centre
said that the North Water 'polynya' - an expanse of open water surrounded on
all sides by ice - that normally forms near Alaska and

Banks Island off the Canadian coast, is much larger than normal. Polynyas
absorb heat from the sun and eat away at the edge of the sea ice.

Inuit natives living near Baffin Bay between Canada and Greenland are also
reporting that the sea ice there is starting to break up much
earlier than normal and that they have seen wide cracks appearing in the ice
where it normally remains stable. Satellite measurements collected over
nearly 30 years show a significant decline in the extent of the Arctic sea
ice, which has become more rapid in recent years.

Greens vs. Tories on capital punishment, in byelection

Greens in Haltemprice and Howden getting some coverage with one of our key
messages (Davis'
enthusiasm for capital punishment), here:
http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk_politics/7476881.stm

Thursday, 26 June 2008

Total Politics piece about Greens vs. Davis

My article just posted on Iain Dale's new TOTAL POLITICS website about the Green Party's standing against David Davis in the H and H byelection.

Letter published: 'How to go green'

[This letter of mine has just been published in LOCAL TRANSPORT TODAY:]

 

Sir;

I found it strange that your otherwise-excellent leader column, "The limits to going green" (12 June), dwelt only on the Conservative Party as a possible alternative to this failing Labour government. The next big electoral test for the government will be the European elections, which will take place in exactly one year from now. Those elections, because they are conducted under a proportional-representation electoral system, offer a level playing field for all Parties.

The Green Party will be challenging Labour and Tories alike over the next 12 months, in the run-up to the Euro-election: challenging those Parties' fake green credentials, and offering instead an actual way out of the crisis now facing this country and this planet. As economic hardship starts to bite, you correctly note the Tories sidling away from the green agenda, and instead starting to promote a traditional Tory tax cutting agenda. What they fail to see is that the crisis that we are now in is a result of strip-mining our environment: high food prices are caused by high oil prices and by incipient climate chaos; the financial crisis is caused by debt-fuelled borrowing to fund out-of-control consumerism; at the roots of all of this lies the burning of fossil fuels like there's no tomorrow, and the consequent running out of oil.

Out of this perfect storm, there is no exit by means of yet more borrowing and yet more spending. The Green Party has consistently warned of oil dependency and the need to develop renewables and invest in sustainable transport systems. There is no evidence that the other parties have recognised the size of the crisis we face nor the need to move away from oil quickly. You remark towards the end of your leader column that "the rising cost of oil gives very good reason to try and reduce dependency on fossil fuel based transport." Exactly so: which is why it is essential that the Green Party prospers: for we are the only Party committed to introducing carbon rationing ('carbon entitlements'), a silver-bullet for ending such dependency, and one less vulnerable than 'green taxes' to public discontent, because a carbon entitlements system is progressive not regressive, and is not a tax.

I hope next June to join our existing MEPs, Caroline Lucas and Jean Lambert, in being elected to the Brussels Parliament. Yes, government should be greener: the best way to ensure that we go green is, unsurprisngly,...to vote Green.

Cllr. Rupert Read, prospective Green Party MEP for Eastern Region
17 Merton Road
Norwich
NR2 3TT
  01603 219294

Wednesday, 25 June 2008

Greens take on Davis over civil liberties!

http://www.greenparty.org.uk/news/3473

The Green Party's official announcement of our candidacy against Davis!
Let's go!...

Green prospects in the Davis byelection

http://www.democracyforum.co.uk/haltemprice-howden-election/51025-grreens-will-stand-howden.html
Fascinating enthusiastic online discussion of members of the public on the Green Party's prospects in the H and H [David Davis] byelection.

Shan Oakes - The real civil liberties candidate

I am delighted to see that there is one serious Party that is going to contest David Davis at this unusual byelection that he has brought about: my own Party, the Green Party. Shan Oakes gave the following statement:


"I've been selected as the official Green Party candidate

After a democratic debate inside the Green Party about whether we should stand in this by-election, I'm thrilled to announce that today the national party gave the go-ahead to us standing in Haltemprice and Howden, after I was selected last night by the local party to contest the seat against the Conservatives' David Davis on July 10th.

That's 16 days time!Our constituency-wide leaflet is due to go to the printers tomorrow, and we're starting campaigning in earnest.

Any offers of campaigning help can be directed to Martin Dean at sokuto12 'at' sokuto12.karoo.co.uk

I'm looking forward to highlighting the Tories' hypocrisy on civil liberties. "

Eastern Region Green Party slates Planning Bill

Planning Bill set to bypass community concerns on major infrastructure applications in East Anglia

The Planning Bill is before Parliament again today with the Government trying to gain the support of rebel MPs through a series of changes to the BIll. A coalition of environmental and conservation charities, representing more than five million members, say democracy will be squeezed out of the planning process.
 
The Green Party in Eastern Region agrees and is warning that there are no changes on offer which would make the Bill acceptable, other than scrapping it, and that if it becomes law, local communities will be bypassed when it comes to decisions on major infrastructure applications. The Bill proposes setting up an appointed Infrastructure Planning Commission.
 
East Anglia is in the front line for many major proposals over coming years including a second runway at Stansted airport, major new roads, a fleet of waste incinerators, new nuclear powers stations probably at Bradwell and Sizewell and further ports expansion.
 
Eastern Region Greens have pledged to support communities fighting unsustainable major projects, particularly more nuclear power stations. The Greens are pointing to the danger of "speeding up" decision-making on nuclear facilities which need critical and very thorough safety analysis.
 
Cllr. Rupert Read, Lead Candidate to become a Green MEP in Eastern Region said
 
"The Government is pretending that the new arrangements set out in the Planning Bill will make decision making better and more accountable. We dont believe them. Centralising decision making into the hands of an unelected quango is obviously just a mechanism to make sure the Government gets the decisions it wants.
 
Local communities will be bypassed in the decision-making process with no real ability to change the outcomes. There may well be a need to reform the way public inquiries work, but they should remain as a vital forum for full debate and discussion about the planning merits or otherwise of all major proposals."
 
ENDS
For further information:
Eastern Region Green Party Press Office Cllr. James Abbott 01376 584576 mobile 07951 923073
Euro 09 Lead Candidate Cllr. Rupert Read 01603 219294 mobile 07946 459066
For a photograph of Rupert Read that you can use, go to
 
For more Green News including Green Party videos please visit
 
--    Rupert Read Green Party Councillor, Norwich, and Lead Candidate for Eastern Region for the Greens in the 2009 Euro-elections. Why not try my new BLOG, 'Rupert's Read': http://rupertsread.blogspot.com  See also www.oneworldcolumn.org [for my regular op-ed journalism] I TWITTER. DO YOU? Check out my new frequently-updated, mobile-phone-based MICRO-BLOG, at http://twitter.com/RupertRead 

Monday, 23 June 2008

GREEN PARTY EURO CANDIDATE SLAMS ARRESTED MEP

PRESS RELEASE:
Cllr. Rupert Read, prospective Green Party MEP for the Eastern Region, today slammed Independent MEP Tom Wise after his arrest on suspicion of obtaining money by possibly several counts of deception (1), branding the former UKIP member 'a disgrace and a disaster for Eastern Region voters and to European politics'.
Mr Wise MEP was suspended by UKIP in 2007 during a European Parliament inquiry over allegations that he claimed money to pay for one of his staff's wages but did not pass all the cash on to her. In May this year he then bragged how he had spent a day 'shamelessly dodging work' and how he 'milks the taxpayers for thousands every week in allowance and expenses claims... It's the opportunity to make shedloads of money. At the end of the day I made £2,000 this week.' (2)
Cllr Read said
"Tom Wise is a disgrace and something of a disaster for his Eastern Region voters and for European politics. He is someone who seems to do virtually no work at all, despite being an elected Eastern Region MEP and, therefore, a supposedly-trusted representative of the people.
"It is disturbing, and deeply ironic, to see an out-and-out euro-sceptic MEP boasting about taking advantage of the Brussels expenses system, to the detriment of his Eastern Region constituents. His voters might as well cut out the European Union, where he is elected and paid to work on their behalf, and channel their taxes straight into his bank account. It is no surprise to me that he has been arrested for alleged corruption, and if found guilty will complete his transition from trusted politician to petty thief, unworthy of the voters' trust.
"He has no place as a politician, nor as an MEP."
Cllr Read, who was endorsed by Martin Bell (3), the BBC's 'man in the white suit' and who in 1997 stood as an anti-corruption MP against Neil Hamilton in the Tatton constituency, and whose first job was as a Radio Norfolk journalist, added
"I am a committed Green politician. Greens are well know and much respected on Norwich council and throughout the UK for honest and open government and, if elected next June, I am committed to being absolutely 100% transparent and honest in my expenses and work in the European Parliament.
"Being Green means being clean. Clean politics, especially in Europe, is more vital than ever if we are to combat the rising tide of public scepticism about politics, fueled by the self-proclaimed behaviour of the likes of Tom Wise. You can trust Greens to deliver clean politics."

ENDS
Notes to editors

3. While sharing a platform at the 2008 Green Party spring national Conference, discussing corruption in government and the state, Mr Bell told Party Conference: "Rupert has a very good chance of winning in 2009. The Greens are a mainstream party now and deserve such breakthroughs. I wish you every good luck."

MEP arrested in fraud probe - Tom Wise, elected as one of UKIP's Eastern Region MEPs in 2004, has been arrested...

Police have arrested a Euro MP representing the East of England on suspicion of obtaining money by deception.

Tom Wise, who was elected for the UK Independence Party but who now sits as an Independent, is being investigated by detectives on behalf of the European Parliament authorities in Brussels.

Last night, a spokeswoman for Bedfordshire Police, which is conducting the inquiry, said: “I cannot confirm the name but we have arrested a man on suspicion of obtaining money by deception. At this stage we cannot say how many counts this is on.”

Mr Wise is one of seven Euro MPs representing the six counties of the East of England - Suffolk, Essex, Norfolk, Cambridgeshire, Bedfordshire and Hertfordshire - who were elected in 2004.Mr Wise, who lives in Leighton Buzzard, hit the headlines in May this year when he was accused by a national newspaper of bragging to an undercover reporter how he had spent a day “shamelessly dodging work” and how he “milks the taxpayers for thousands every week in allowance and expenses claims.”

After the story was published, Mr Wise replied on his website: “There is abuse across the EU, with millions of euros squandered on pointless, minority serving interests and the system of remunerating MEPs is part of it.

“I claim that which is available to me. I do not fiddle, embezzle or otherwise operate any scam for the purposes of unlawfully extracting more than this. I believe the system is disgraceful and should be changed.”

In February 2007, Mr Wise was suspended by UKIP when at the centre of a European Parliament inquiry over allegations he claimed money to pay for one of his staff's wages but did not pass all the cash on to her.At the time, UKIP said he had been suspended “for failure to provide information responding to alleged fraud irregularities that are now being investigated by OLAF (the European anti-fraud body).”

Following the withdrawal of the UKIP whip, Mr Wise has sat as an Independent in the Parliament, although he is still aligned to the Independence and Democracy group.

A spokesman for the European Parliament's London office said Euro MPs were governed by the same rules as those affecting MPs in the country they represent. Mr Wise, formerly political adviser and office manager in Chelmsford for UKIP's first Euro MP Jeffrey Titford, would be disbarred from office if he was found guilty and receives a jail term exceeding 12 months. Mr Wise, who has been bailed by police, said last night he had voluntarily attended the police station and agreed to return for a further interview at a later date.

The Envy of the World?

Should we or should we not give the go-ahead to ‘polyclinics’ within the NHS? This is the biggest question facing health service policy. It faces us here in Norfolk and Norwich, because there is a proposal to replace the walk-in health centre in Thorpe St Andrew with a city centre ‘polyclinic’. That would apparently be a health centre grouping several GP practices with new facilities.

I want to take an indirect approach to the question that I raised, above. I am going to talk about a book which can I think put us in a much better position to maybe answer it.

The book is Alysson Pollock's magisterial NHS plc. The opening lines of its closing chapter, "The emerging health care market", make the stakes starkly evident: "The NHS is being dismantled and privatised. Very soon every part of it will have been ‘unbundled' and commodified... a new business dynamic is taking charge of the ways in which services are provided and patients are responded to. The dramatic costs involved - in terms of loss of equal access and universal standards, as well as of money - are concealed by claims of ‘commercial confidentiality'."

Our Government's most brilliant achievement of spin has not been its - exposed and now failed - effort to conceal the truth over why it attacked Iraq, but its - largely successful - concealment of the destruction under its tutelage of Labour's greatest ever achievement. It is an act of true political brilliance that the NHS is being dismantled by the Party that created it whilst successfully posing as its saviour.

But, as Pollock predicted, this PR success too is unravelling. The NHS is in serious financial trouble, and for the first time ever, more citizens now trust the Tories (heaven help us!) with the NHS than New Labour. This is the backdrop to the Government’s announcement of the polyclinic initiative.

Now, the NHS was never perfect. Indeed, Pollock herself details how it was perhaps fatally compromised by primary care (i.e. doctors’ surgeries) never being nationalised. One could add to that something that Pollock neglects to address: the deep importance of prevention, and how ultimately what we need is not only to defend the NHS, but to transform it into a national wellness service, with a smaller budget for its big hospitals.

But the NHS was incredible value for money; it was the envy of the world in countries from Moscow and Havana to Berlin and Washington. And I've started speaking in the past tense since, for now, the NHS is half-abolished. It is dying; or rather, being killed, because of dogmatic beliefs that private solutions must trump public ones. It is on the way to becoming little more than a kite-mark for numerous outsourced profit-making operations.

If one wants to understand how the NHS has been cherry-picked, cream-skimmed, and bled dry financially by the private sector, at the bidding of the party that once upon a time created it, then there is one thing above all that one needs to do: read Allysson Pollock’s book.

And then, I think, a potential answer to our question emerges. ‘Polyclinics’ could be a very fine thing. Why shouldn’t people have easy access, in the city centre, to a ser of facilities where they can be treated for a wide variety of ills? Since the Norfolk and Norwich Hospital was so foolishly moved out to the edge of the city, we have lacked anything like this. Polyclinics could be a new form of community hospitals, in effect, but with simple walk-in access.

Just two things: (1) This had better not be at the expense of existing well-functioning facilities, such as that in Thorpe, and such as various good doctor’s surgeries around the city. There is a very real worry that polyclinics would in effect compete with existing doctors, and drive them into the ground.

And (2) It had better not be a trojan horse for privatisation. Pollock points out how the Government is trying to engineer more and more private involvement in the NHS. And the big worry about polyclinics is that they will, on the Government’s current plans, be open to private companies to run. That is very bad news indeed.

If we are to have polyclinics, then let them be run by the NHS. Not, as could happen under the current proposals, by the likes of Tesco…

Wednesday, 18 June 2008

Save the Norwich nuclear bunker!

 
PRESS RELEASE: Green Party joins call to preserve nuclear bunker

Green Party lead Euro-Candidate Councillor Rupert Read today announced his support to local residents' bid for the preservation of a Cold War era bunker on Chartwell Road near the Constitution Hill roundabout in Norwich.

Councillor Read said, "The use of this site for a road side restaurant is clearly inappropriate. The site should be preserved and turned over to community use."

"This bunker is a relic from a time when the Cold War was very real and could have easily led to Nuclear War. It is part of our history and a memorial to a war that thankfully never happened."

Campaigners are attempting to raise the money necessary to buy the site and are due to apply to English Heritage.

Councillor Read added, "I urge the owner of the site to reconsider and allow campaigners the time they need to raise the money to buy the site."

Green Party Leadership...

Go to Peter Cranie's blog to vote for who YOU want to be the next Leader and Deputy Leader of the Green Party:

http://www.petercranie.blogspot.com/

A 'Wasted Opportunity'

Below, important news on the failure of the E.U. to take
action to curb incineration.
If the EuroParl had done what our Green MPs suggested, then it would have
made it harder and less attractive for Norfolk County Council to build an
incinerator at King's Lynn (or at Costessey, still not 100% out of the
question). Unfortunately, they didn't...

SOUTH EAST GREEN EURO-MP LABELS EU VOTE ON DIRECTIVE A 'WASTED OPPORTUNITY'

A plenary vote in the European Parliament today, which sealed an agreement
on a second Council reading for the crucial EU Waste Framework Directive,
was little more than a 'wasted opportunity', said the South East's Green MEP
Caroline Lucas.

Dr Lucas MEP said: "This patchwork compromise containing both positive and
negative elements is a major lost opportunity to have made real progress on
waste prevention. As well as promoting incineration, the compromise also
includes two potential loopholes that are likely to haunt us in the future.

"It introduces new definitions for 'by-products' and when 'waste ceases to
be a waste'. This creates possibilities to unduly escape waste legislation
and may well lead to a new series of court cases."

She continued: "Today's compromise means that instead of EU waste
stabilisation and reduction targets we only get Commission studies on waste
prevention. Instead of clear and ambitious targets for waste reuse and
recycling, we get non-binding targets for 2020 that many Member States have
already achieved.

"And rather than establishing separate collection and composting of
bio-waste, this is left to the goodwill of Member States - and subject to
yet another Commission study.

"The compromise is also a missed opportunity for climate change policy. An
ambitious European waste policy could and should make an important
contribution to reducing CO2 emissions through consequent waste prevention,
recycling, and the composting of bio-waste - but the political will is
unfortunately still lacking to make this happen."

Sunday, 15 June 2008

Greens lead Norwich stand against higher education privatisation

Only a vote for the Green Party can stop the 'Labour' government from turning universities into bastions of privilege for the rich, rather than what they should be: open centres of learning.

Labour is planning to allow different universities to charge different fees to their students, a move which will price all but the rich out of Britain's best universities.  In response last week I had a motion overwhelmingly supported and adopted by the best ever attended annual University of East Anglia (UEA) staff assembly, expressing powerful opposition to the new Labour Government's agenda of privatising higher education.

Learn more here.

Friday, 13 June 2008

People Power Wins, as Ireland Votes No to Lisbon Treaty

The Green Party is welcoming the clear No vote in the Irish referendum on the Lisbon Treaty. 862,415 voted No, compared to 752,451 who voted Yes.
 
Cllr. Rupert Read, Lead Green Party candidate for the 2009 European Elections in Eastern Region said:
 
"The remote political establishment of Brussels has had their dream of ever greater centralisation of political power utterly shattered today.
 
People power has won. The voters of Ireland saw though the pretence that the Treaty was a harmless exercise and recognised it for what it is - a further draining away of democracy from member states.
 
The UK Government would not dare put this Treaty to a vote here as the majority No vote would be overwhelming.
 
Irish voters have sent a clear message on behalf of all the ordinary people of Europe - that the Euro elite have now got to stop their grand plans to rule the continent without consent. A new democratic settlement is needed for Europe that retains co-operation between states but allows them the ability to make their own decisions on matters that affect their own people without being micromanaged from Brussels.
 
The Green Party opposes the Lisbon Treaty because it would have led to the further militarisation of the EU, as well as measures to promote increased economic liberalisation - which is an agenda for big business, at the expense of local communities. The Green Party favours localisation, instead.
 
Lisbon squandered a unique opportunity to put sustainability and climate security genuinely at the heart of the Union, and failed to bring the EU institutions closer to European citizens. It is a great thing that the Irish people have enabled us to see the back of such a failed Treaty."

Open Democracy post on David Davis and Greens

Ireland votes No -- you heard it here first

I'm feeling slightly smug at having -- as it seems -- correctly predicted earlier this week that the Irish voters would roundly reject the E.U. Constitution (aka 'Lisbon Treaty') -- see my micro-blog-posts ('twitters') at left on this blog.
A certain Irish bookies are feeling decidly queasy, having ignored my prediction and started, stupidly, paying out to those who had bet 'Yes', before the votes were counted....:
 

Greens reject Nuclear subsidies and community "bribes"

The Green Party has rejected Government plans both to "bribe" local communities to accept highly dangerous nuclear waste and to give an enormous indefinite subsidy to nuclear power operators. http://www.telegraph.co.uk/earth/main.jhtml?xml=/earth/2008/06/12/eanuclear112.xml
 
The Government plan is to allow operators of both existing and new nuclear power plants to hive off their responsibility for taking care of the waste that they produce, in return for a fixed payment. But the Greens are pointing to the huge financial risk and burden to taxpayers this will cause given the uncertainties and very long term nature of nuclear waste storage.
 
Cllr. Rupert Read, Eastern Region Green Party Lead MEP candidate in next year's Euro-elections, said:
 
"At a time when the Government is failing to balance its books and ordinary citizens are having to tighten their belts, it is outrageous that the fat-cats who profit from the unsustainable nuclear industry are to be effectively written a blank cheque."
 
"Nuclear power is uneconomic. No private company has tried to build a nuclear power plant for more than a decade despite the de-regulated energy market making it easier for them to do so. The reason is the open-ended cost of cleaning up nuclear waste. Now the Government is proposing to take much of that cost off their hands. This is an outrageous, barely-disguised subsidy and breaks Labour Government pledges made only very recently that there would no subsidies to new nuclear build."
 
The Greens are also rejecting the Government's move to "bribe" local communities to take nuclear waste.
 
Environment Secretary Hilary Benn claimed in parliament that facilities would be "safe, secure and environmentally acceptable".
 
Cllr. Rupert Read said
 
"This is more greenwash from a discredited Government. The nuclear waste problem cannot be solved because of the very long duration of the radioactivity from some of the wastes. The Government can try to bribe communities now, but if councils accept, it will be generation after generation of people to come who will have to live with the danger of having highly radioactive material on their doorstep. Green Councillors will oppose any such moves."
 
Eastern Region already has 2 nuclear power sites at Sizewell and Bradwell and these sites are expected to be in the front line for yet more nuclear reactors.
 
East Anglia has also been shortlisted in the past for radioactive waste sites. There is a danger of the Thetford area being chosen as a site for the burial of nuclear waste, because of it having been identified previously as a prime potential site.

Thursday, 12 June 2008

David Davis does something remarkable...

The amazing move that David Davis has made today might just be the catalyst that we can use to turn the debate on political and civil freedoms in the correct direction. When I heard the announcement live this lunchtime, it came to me in seconds that we might now -- finally -- be able to have a large-scale debate about 'civil liberties' in this country, and -- finally -- be able to get large numbers of people to reassess their continual sleepwalking into a police state. That we might at last have an opportunity to frame our fundamental post-Magna-Carta freedoms as something which it just isn't OK to put in the balance and weigh against 'the terrorist threat'. For, the moment we engage in such a weighing process, the argument is lost: liberty will always seem weigh less, against an imponderable terrifying threat. The most important things of all must not be allowed to be traded for an always-receding 'security'.

Whether Davis will potentially be able to catalyse the kind of effect for which one hopes will probably depend to a fairly large extent upon whether Labour stands against him in the by-election. The signs here don't look good – my reading of what major Labour figures are saying, so far, is that they are inclined to join the LibDems in not standing against Davis.

Incidentally, it was very striking on Channel 4 News this evening that Nick Clegg was more or less forced to admit by Jon Snow that he had promised Davis that the LibDems would not stand against him before he (Clegg) did any consultation with the local Party, let alone with the local LibDem Parliamentary candidate, who learned of the news that the LibDems would not be standing against Davis only from the TV!

As for my own Party: The Green Party will take longer to decide whether or not to stand, because we actually have democratic procedures about these things (unlike, apparently, the LibDems).

But, whether we eventually stand or not, I think tonight it is not unreasonable to offer a moment of thanks to David Davis, for having at least given us a chance of shifting the debate on civil liberties, something which isn't easily done. And in closing I'll plug Paul Kingsnorth's intriguing fulsome praise, from earlier today:

http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2008/jun/12/daviddavis.civilliberties

Tuesday, 10 June 2008

Green propects in Norwich South

Further to my post of yesterday:
I think that Norwich South now is a four-way marginal. The Tories are probably just about back in the frame, given their fairly strong showing in last month's local elections here [though they were pretty amazed not to win Eaton] and their high national standing. The LibDems, just by virtue of having been second in 2005 -- and by virtue of not having been wiped out completely on May 1st -- still cannot be completely ruled out. We in the Green Party are obviously the up-and-comers, with 1st place in the constituency two years running. And Labour hold the seat (though one confesses to delight that they were fourth in Norwich South this year)!
The fascinating thing about 4-way marginals is that they can be won with as little as 26-27% of the vote... 
And I know for a fact that people have been placing bets on the Green Party to win Norwich South (with William Hill)...
All of which leads me to think that Adrian Ramsay has a real chance of winning here, in 2010.
If he were Deputy Leader of the Green Party, by the way, his increased national profile would mean that that chance too would surely only increase...

Monday, 9 June 2008

Green Party inaugural Leadership elections coming...

Several months back, this blog engaged in speculation about who might stand for the Leadership of the Green Party, if the referendum creating Leader and Deputy posts went through. Well, it did go through, and we are about to see if any of those speculations (or suggestions) were accurate or not: for nominations are about to open for the first-ever election for Leader and Deputy Leader of our Party...
Who WILL stand?
Then, as now, I hope that Caroline Lucas will stand for Leader and win. Though I also hope that there will be a contest for the post. And I'm going to say one thing new: I hope that my colleague, now the first-ever Leader of the Opposition on a Principal Authority Council, Adrian Ramsay, will stand for Deputy. I think it would be really exciting to have someone fresh and new, someone standing for the second most winnable Parliamentary seat for our Party (with Brighton Pavillion, where Caroline is standing, being the most winnable), putting themselves up for this national office...

My pledge on Euro-expenses

An excellent post here by my fellow Green Party Target Region lead candidate in the North West, Peter Cranie, on the expenses etc scandals facing especially Tory MEPs at present, and about the very different response that we as Greens are making and would make to the situation of being MEPs. http://petercranie.blogspot.com/2008/06/expenses-tories.html
Like Peter, I am committed if elected to being absolutely 100% transparent in my expenses etc., rather than abusing the system.
Being Green means being clean: clean politics, especially in Europe, is more vital than ever, to combat the rising tide of quite-rational public scepticism about politics. You can trust Greens -- and, unfortunately, not many others -- to deliver clean politics.

Friday, 6 June 2008

GREENS SAY NO TO EXPANSION OF STANSTED:

What follows is my letter to Uttlesford District Council urging them to reject BAA's planned expansion of Stansted airport:

Sir;

In 2002, Uttlesford District Council held a referendum on the Government’s plans for more runways at Stansted Airport, and 89% of the respondents said no. In 2006, the BAA planned to increase the annual maximum number of passengers by 10 million, but those plans were also rejected by Uttlesford. These are just two examples of your Council’s excellent commitment not only to your own district’s concerns, but also to curbing the broader, devastating effects that such expansions would have on the environment. And now I understand that a decision to treble the capacity of the airport is to be considered by the Council.

I would like to compliment the District Council on its outstanding efforts so far. You are in a position to play a leading role in challenging one of the most significant threats to the environment that we currently face and at each instance you have acted with a sense of responsibility and rationality that I truly hope you shall continue to adopt in the future.

Having read over some of the schemes that the BAA is offering in order to (supposedly) compensate homeowners around the Stansted area for the inevitable fall in house prices as well as the loss of homes that the expansion will require, there is a worry that these measures will make the Council more disposed to accept the current plans. However, rather than arguing against such an attitude, I have a great deal of faith in the good sense with which the Council has reacted to such plans in the past, and I wish only to support them in continuing to think about the bigger picture when it comes to making a decision next month.

Uttlesford District Council has set an example that the rest of the country would be wise to follow, and it would be disheartening, as well as hugely damaging, if you were to give in to the BAA in June. I would urge you to continue to face this issue with resolute objection to any plan that will so diversely affect not only your own district, but also the well being of everyone else as we face the catastrophic changes brought about by our ongoing pollution of the environment.

Yours faithfully,
Cllr. Rupert Read
(Eastern Region Green Party lead candidate in 2009 Euro-elections)

Thursday, 5 June 2008

World Environment Day today -- and the Euro elections, just 365 days away...

Today, is World Environment Day. Meanwhile, the clock is ticking on the world's climate; but also, with exactly one year to go to the 2009 European Elections, there is an opportunity to make this region – and the world -- a greener place to live: by electing a Green MEP.

World Environment day is commemorated each year on 5 June, and is one of the principal vehicles through which the United Nations stimulates worldwide awareness of the environment and enhances political attention and action.

The World Environment Day slogan for 2008 is Kick the Habit! Towards a Low Carbon Economy.

The level of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, the main greenhouse gas produced by society, is rising relentlessly and is now believed to be at a level not seen on the planet for nearly a million years.

As lead MEP candidate for this Region, I fully support World Environment Day and the need to cut carbon emissions. Many people are doing their bit to make greener choices, but UK emissions remain stubbornly high and have risen under Labour since 1997 -- see various entries on this blog, especially the recent guest post by James Abbott. Government has to make it easier for people to do the right thing. That is what Green Parliamentary representatives will press for.

During this election campaign I intend to trumpet head on the fact that "business as usual" growth economics is incompatible with making the required cuts in emissions and is not delivering a better society: people are less happy now that they were in 1970, when the economy was less than half the size that it now is.

The Government continues to pretend that we can tackle dangerous climate change whilst building another runway at Stansted, expanding roads, building incinerators and concreting over large areas of countryside for development. They are wrong.

The Green Party will over the coming months be setting out the measures that we believe are needed to move towards a genuinely sustainable society. Here is an outline:

Centralised development targets should be scrapped and replaced with local measures of the numbers and locations of homes needed in each area - particularly affordable homes. The Government should remove the mechanisms that are leading more and more councils to plan to build waste incinerators. Investment should be directed entirely to raising levels of recycling and composting. Nuclear power is uneconomic and will not stop dangerous climate change: The tens of billions that new nuclear power stations would cost should be spent on a major programme of energy efficiency and investment in renewables, to make Eastern Region a leader in green energy and in green jobs. The road building programme should be scrapped, with money spent instead on road safety and a big expansion of public transport to reduce road traffic levels and improve air quality.

These are the radical measures needed to help tackle climate change. Electing a Green MEP in one year's time will be a major positive step towards making sure these changes become reality. And with proportional representation at the European Elections, every Green vote counts.

Euro 2009 Candidates - Architecture and Sustainability

Last month I, along with Euro candidates from the other main parties, was asked the following question by Paul McAlenan:

"Now that I know you are a candidate for Europe 2009 I would like to ask what your views are on architecture and our ‘built’ environment.
Do you agree with me that there is far to much pastiche and that the architecture of our new housing whether its private or association has to derive out of the NOW."

The candidates from both the Labour party and the Liberal party didn't respond.  The reply from the Conservative candidate (a trained architect) can be read by clicking here.  My response to the question follows...  

"Of course new builds should be of the now. They should deal with the pressing social/global issues of the time. In the nineteenth century that was the Industrial Revolution. In the new millennium it is dangerous climate change.

30% of the UK’s carbon emissions come from the home. This figure need to be cut by a bare minimum of 80% by 2050 as we fight to save the planet. Much of this will be done out of necessity by alterations to the existing housing stock (effective insulation, CHP systems) but a great contribution can come from innovative new building projects.

Architects need to embrace modern techniques to construct ultra-low and zero-carbon buildings. For example, Passive Solar Design - which pays specific attention to the site and location of dwellings, the prevailing climate, solar orientation and glazing elements - can provide energy consumption reductions of up to 70 - 90%.

Buildings built according to the rigorous German Passivhaus standard (super-insulated, triple-glazed, airtight) use approximately 85% less energy and produce 95% less carbon than properties built to UK 2002 standards. With the addition of Microgeneration Technologies such as Solar Photovoltaics and Ground Source Heat Pumps these buildings achieve zero-carbon emissions.

By their very nature ultra-low/zero-carbon homes appear strikingly different to the ‘traditional’ and mundane designs we have seen replicated up and down the country in housing projects for the last 30-40 years. However, necessity dictates that the contemporary architect and planner must embrace (and continually develop) environmentally sympathetic, scientifically sound, avant-garde ideas now and in the future as we struggle to save our world.

…Hope these thoughts answer your question, Paul. But I’d also be interested to hear more back from you on this, as you probably know more about some aspects of the question, perhaps especially in aesthetic terms, than I do."


You can read the full article and Paul McAlenan's thoughts on my reply can be read by clicking here.

CANADIAN EMISSIONS JUMP ON TAR SANDS REFINING

Mining of Canada's tar sands for the extraction of crude oil generates
three times as many greenhouse gas emissions than from mining conventional
crude oil in the country, according to report released Wednesday.
http://www.pointcarbon.com/news/1.932163
This chilling story backs up the point I have been making in this blog for a
long time now: unless we find a political way of stopping the phenomenon,
then we are going to see Peak Oil's impact softened by moves that will
rapidly escalate the climate crisis.
In a nutshell: Peak Oil + Business as Usual = Climate Catastrophe

Wednesday, 4 June 2008

Post Offices - the truth about the other Parties' records...


        Here in Norwich, as across Suffolk and Norfolk and indeed much of the country, all Parties are posturing          as defenders of our Post Offices (see blog entries on this, below).
 
         Well: Here is some interesting information about the EU's Postal Services Directive.

 The best explanation is at http://europa.eu/scadplus/leg/en/lvb/l33231.htm It makes reference to the existing legislation, which is detailed at http://europa.eu/scadplus/leg/en/lvb/l24166.htm

 

There is a press report from the European Parliament following the recent proposals at http://www.europarl.europa.eu/news/expert/background_page/056-8767-190-07-28-909-20070703BKG08766-09-07-2007-2007-false/default_en.htm

 

 And the transcript of the debate - http://www.europarl.europa.eu/sides/getDoc.do?pubRef=-//EP//TEXT+CRE+20070710+ITEM-005+DOC+XML+V0//EN&language=EN  On this page you can access 'explanation of votes' (middle right), which are quite interesting! They make clear where, unfortunately, the Members of Parliament of other Parties actually stand, on this issue, their local protestations notwithstanding... 

 

Greens put in an amendment to the new Directive when it came before the European Parliament in July 2007 saying 'to the extent necessary to ensure the maintenance of the universal service, member states may continue to reserve services to universal service providers'. None of the other Parties supported it.

 

Greens also opposed fixing in advance a deadline for the expiry of the old system because consultation with social actors indicated that more time was needed to find a proportional and equitable means of maintaining guarantees of universal service – again, no support from other political parties.

 

The Commission wanted to make it voluntary for governments to lay down any conditions on rights of workers and other social and working provisions for the providers of services outside the scope of universal service. Greens said this should be mandatory – none of the other Parties agreed.

 

Is it any wonder that we say that only the Green Party can be trusted to defend the Post Offices: locally, nationally, and internationally?

 

In the European Parliament, I would join other Greens in truly defending the postal service from being dismantled.

12 months to go, until the Euro-elections!

The next big electoral test for the government will be the European elections, which will take place in exactly one year from now. Those elections, because they are conducted under a proportional-representation electoral system, offer a level playing field for all Parties.

The Green Party will be challenging Labour and Tories alike over the next 12 months, in the run-up to the Euro-election: challenging those Parties' fake green credentials, and offering instead an actual way out of the crisis now facing this country and this planet. As economic hardship starts to bite, the Tories are sidling away from the green agenda, and instead starting to promote a traditional Tory tax cutting agenda. What they fail to see is that the crisis that we are now in is a result of strip-mining our environment: high food prices are caused by high oil prices and by incipient climate chaos; the financial crisis is caused by debt-fuelled borrowing to fund out-of-control consumerism; at the roots of all of this lies the burning of fossil fuels like there's no tomorrow, and the consequent running out of oil.

Out of this perfect storm, there is no exit by means of yet more borrowing and yet more spending. The Green Party has consistently warned of oil dependency and the need to develop renewables and invest in sustainable transport systems. There is no evidence that the other parties have recognised the size of the crisis we face nor the need to move away from oil quickly. It is essential that the Green Party prospers: for we are the only Party committed to introducing carbon rationing ('carbon entitlements'), a silver-bullet for ending oil dependency, and one less vulnerable than 'green taxes' to public discontent, because a carbon entitlements system is progressive not regressive, and is not a tax.

I hope next June to join our existing MEPs, Caroline Lucas and Jean Lambert, in being elected to the Brussels Parliament. Yes, government should be greener: the best way to ensure that we go green is, unsurprisngly,...to vote Green.

Obama: reframer

Obama is the nominee. Thank goodness: he has more promise than any other Democrat Presidential candidate for two generations.
How has he done it, against what 8 months ago was the near-certainty that Clinton would win? He has done it by reframing the issues.
See for instance

http://www.rockridgeinstitute.org/research/rockridge/to-catch-a-wolf

http://www.pensitoreview.com/2008/02/20/the-secret-of-obamas-success-and-why-hell-keep-winning-%E2%80%94-he-listens-to-george-lakoff/

http://www.buzzflash.com/articles/editorblog/040

and, crucially,

http://www.rockridgenation.org/blog/archive/2007/05/29/thinking-points-discussion-of-chapter-8-part-1-the-art-of-arguments


[See also

http://chumppolitics.blogspot.com/2008/05/dont-think-of-clinging-elephant.html

].

This -- reframing, generating words that win in a sustainable way, not mere spin with its temporary 'hit' and its cynical backwash -- is what the Green Party too needs to do. In a big way.
I am working on a book (a 'handbook') of reframing techniques. To find out more, visit the 'Reframing links', about halfway down the leftside of this blog.
And watch this space.

Tuesday, 3 June 2008

US Green Party


A coal based future is - literally - no future

Estimates vary, but, roughly, the world has only about 40 years of known oil reserves (and 65 years of natural-gas supplies) remaining. At current rates of consumption, that is to say, the world will entirely run out of oil before 2050.

The world has enough coal reserves however to last an estimated 155 years, with some of the largest reserves being moreover in the two biggest oil-consuming countries, the US and China.

Hidden inside these facts and figures is a threat to our future so vast that even now barely anyone thinking about our ecology dares to contemplate it openly. The threat is that of human beings turning to coal on a vast scale to replace oil and gas as they progressively run out – and of liquefying and gasifying coal on a vast scale, to directly replace them. Why is this a threat? Because the carbon consequences would be astronomical.

The threat posed to our climate’s stability by the resurgence of coal as a mass-scale fossil fuel is terrifying enough. ‘Clean coal’ remains little more than handy ad-man’s greenwash: even if and when it becomes commercially viable, it will be a fairly poor option in terms of carbon emissions: but that point is far from having been reached yet, and may never be. By plumping for coal now, Britain and the US and China are playing Russian Roulette with the climate.

But the picture becomes far worse, when one does what virtually no-one yet has dared do: including the (already-technologically-available) processes of gasification and liquification into the picture. Gasification is a problem, because it will be terribly tempting to continue to run our cookers and boilers and so on ersatz (coal-based) natural gas – at a terrible carbon cost. But the biggest single reason why changing the state of coal is a terrifying threat to the human future has to do with the possibility of the production of ‘coal-oil’ on a large scale opening up.

For the big limitation of coal of course appears to be its unsuitability for contemporary transport systems. That is where oil is such a beautiful material. That (along with its fake green credentials) is at the root of the lunatic craze for large-scale ‘biofuels’, which we One World Columnists have been warning about for years, and which the rest of the world seems at last to have caught up with us about.


But sky-high oil prices, unlikely ever to descend to their levels of a few years ago (given that oil is indeed running out, becoming more and more precious), render the technology for liquefying coal into ‘coal-oil’ commercially viable. Now.

The carbon ‘hit’ of coal is of course much greater than that of oil. But the prospect of coal-derived liquid petro-chemicals brings in its train the prospect of business-as-usual in the transportation sector – the one sector where carbon emissions are already rising. For there is of course an energy-intensive process involved, to turn coal into ‘oil’. Where will that energy be provided from? In a ‘business-as-usual’ case: once again, from coal…

The Natural Resources Defense Council, a US-based environmental advocacy group, estimates that the production and use of gasoline, diesel fuel, jet fuel and other fuels from crude oil release on average about 27.5 pounds of carbon dioxide per gallon. The production and use of a gallon of liquid fuel originating in coal emit about 49.5 pounds of carbon dioxide, they estimate. That’s almost twice as much. Even some fans of the coal-to-oil plants describe them as carbon-dioxide factories that produce energy on the side.

And here is a worrying straw in the wing: In June 2006, two US Senators from coal-producing states, from Illinois and of Kentucky, introduced a bill to offer loan guarantees and tax incentives for US coal-to-liquid plants. The name of the Illinois Senator? One Barack Obama…

If we put Old King Coal in our tanks, we are stoking the fires of the apocalypse. It’s worth repeating: “If you make gasoline or diesel out of coal, you double global warming pollution from cars and trucks.” The words of David Friedman, a renewable-fuels expert at the renowned Union of Concerned Scientists.

If human civilisation is to survive and flourish, most of the Earth’s remaining coal must remain in the ground. If we put off the impact of ‘Peak Oil’ by switching to coal-oil, we will bring on climate catastrophe.

There must never be large-scale use of coal for making synthetic oil – if we want there to continue to be large-scale life.

Thanks for help with researching this column to Paul Roome and Chris Keene

Click here to view the article in full





1. 2. 3. Rupert's Read: June 2008 4. 12. 15. 18. 19. 20. 21.

Rupert's Read

22. 23. 31. 32.