Saturday, 28 February 2009

Protest Photos!



1. From the Royal Mail privatisation demo in London, 24/02/2009.
2. At Westminster protesting against democratic deficit in the Heathrow expansion decision with MP's from various parties including John McDonnell and Vince Cable.
(In case it isn't clear: We had this mock-up / pretend-mace, to recall John McDonnell's wielding the mace out of frustration at the lack of democracy in the government's decision to bypass Parliament over the Heathrow 3rd runway plan...)

Friday, 27 February 2009

Nuclear rebuttal

A 'guest post' from my pal John Whitelegg:
 
'A small number of Greens, feeling the urgency of the climate crisis, have suggested a nuclear re-think as a lesser of two evils. But it's also true that the Green Party overwhelmingly thinks they're wrong. The case for nuclear power to deal with climate change simply doesn't stack up.
 
Let's forget for a moment that nuclear energy is risky, and that after fifty years the industry still hasn't worked out what to do with the dangerous waste it generates. Even then, nuclear power should still be phased out in the interest of good economics. A recent study showed that the UK nuclear industry has wasted £32 billion. It's the most expensive form of energy when we take into account its long-term waste costs, even if we ignore the potential costs of a nuclear disaster.
 
But there are other reasons why Greens oppose nuclear power. We want to create a truly sustainable economy. That means viable jobs for huge numbers of people in sustainable industries. Studies have consistently shown that nuclear energy sustains far fewer jobs per megawatt than non-nuclear renewables.
 
It also means creating resilient, diverse economies. Currently many local economies are far too dependent on the industrial monoculture of a nuclear power plant. Renewable energy would not only sustain jobs in significant numbers at major locations, for example where wind turbines are being manufactured. It would also create huge numbers of jobs spread around the entire country, benefitting every local economy, for instance the jobs installing and maintaining microgenerators and servicing very large numbers of small-scale windfarms and biogas plants and so on.
 
Of course, in the immediate term we have a recession to deal with. We need to create very large numbers of jobs right now. We can't achieve this by building nuclear power stations in fifteen years' time. We can, however, unclog the planning system so that all the offshore and onshore wind projects that are currently held up can go ahead urgently. We could immediately announce new feed-in tariffs that would give investors the confidence to pour money into renewable energy. We could put the UK economy on something like a war footing starting tomorrow, to get all the wind, wave and solar systems in place that we need to achieve a low-carbon or even zero-carbon economy. If we achieved Denmark's rate of growth on wind energy we could create something like 200,000 jobs in that sector alone by 2020 - faster than you could build nuclear power stations.
 
And also, as a matter of priority, we could start straightaway with domestic and business energy conservation. Not only would this rapidly create many tens of thousands of jobs within a short space of time - it would also save as much energy as all the UK's nuclear power stations currently generate.
 
So we simply don't need nuclear power to stop climate change. But we do need comprehensive Green policies, and we need them to be implemented now.'
 
Prof John Whitelegg, Green Party spokesperson on sustainable development
 
 
 

Carbon News

Greens advise against "panic" over nuclear power

25-02-09

Greens advise against
Green Party leader Caroline Lucas says it will take "many years" to build new nuclear plants, during which time renewable energy and efficiency projects could be established

Last post for Mandy

So, the Government is advocating the sale of one quarter to a third of Royal Mail to a private European postal company.

 

On Tuesday I joined hundreds of postal workers at a rally in Westminster opposing any sell-off of this important British institution. They were especially angry about the fact that the Government is refusing to fund the pension fund deficit estimated to be around £9 billion – unless the privatisation goes ahead. This amounts to the blackmail of 450,000 workers by the Government.

 

The privatisation is strongly opposed by the Communication Workers' Union and more than 140 Labour MPs who have signed a motion opposing it, and for good reason. Putting essential public services in the hands of the private sector will lead to job cuts, cherry picking of parts of the service for profit, and potentially breaking up the service to be sold off. The postal service should not be exposed to the risks that private operators are more likely to take - surely we have learnt that much, at least, from the collapse of our nation's banks?

 

If it is commercial expertise that Royal Mail needs, then experts can be hired to ensure that such advice is available. The Royal Mail was brought under public ownership by Oliver Cromwell and even Margaret Thatcher thought it should remain publicly owned. Peter Mandelson thinks differently, which says much about how far New Labour has strayed from its roots.

 

Peter Mandelson asks us to trust him with the future of the Royal Mail. I would sooner trust a hungry lion, frankly...

 

If in June I am elected to the European Parliament I pledge to continue to fight hard to keep this vital British institution, the Royal Mail, public. The Green Party is now the only major political party opposed to privatisation.

Thursday, 26 February 2009

Letter to the Independent: Not Going Nuclear

Sir;
The INDEPENDENT has played a key role in the greenwashing of nuclear power over the last five years, from its trumpeting in 2004 of James Lovelock's support for nuclear (omitting to mention that he had been a virtually life-long nuclearphile) to its forlorn attempt now to pretend that 'the Green movement' is backing nuclear. What evidence does the INDY produce for that extraordinary assertion? The backing for nuclear, allegedly, of the following four individuals: 

1) Mark Lynas, who has in fact backed nuclear for some time now and is no new convert. Lynas's most important book is 'High Tide', about the impact of global over-heat through rising sea-levels. It would be interesting to hear what the impact will be of rising sea levels upon
nuclear power stations - nearly all of which are built right beside the sea...
 
2) Chris Smith, Labour peer. When I last looked, Labour were strongly pro-nuclear - so no great surprise there. Smith is not a green, merely a Labour appointee.
 
3) Stephen Tindale, formely of Greenpeace. Sadly, Mr. Tindale has leant towards the Labour line politically in recent years, and (unlike some other major figures in green pressure groups) has been notably unsympathetic to the Green Party. His defection to the nuclear lobby is therefore again little surprise.
 
4) Chris Goodall, one lone Green Party parliamentary candidate. If Chris had actually come out strongly and unequivocally in favour of nuclear power, that would have been a bit of a blow. But he didn't. His nuanced words have it seems been twisted by the INDY to imply stronger support for nuclear than he actually feels.

So: It is simply untrue that 'the Green movement' is leaning towards nuclear power now. The INDY is guilty of hype and sensationalism: shoddy reporting. A further key example of this is the crazy statement in Sarah Arnott's gushing pro-nuclear 'news' article (24 Feb.) that nuclear power has "no carbon emissions". This is a dreadful distortion: yes, nuclear power has no carbon emissions up its chimneys - but the carbon emissions it generates from mining, transportation, refining, processing, and (most crucially, because open-endedly) dealing with its waste stream, are huge.
 
All this is a shame, because it will seriously tarnish the credibility of your (generally excellent) environmental-news team, and the (richly-deserved) strong reputation of Geoffrey Lean and Michael McCarthy.
 
I urge the INDY to come back to reality. Nuclear could never be a responsible choice for anyone who takes the future seriouly, as Greens by definition do. For gifting our descendants with vast piles of toxic waste is nothing less than a mortal crime against our children, and
their children, and their children...

Cllr. Rupert Read, Green Party Prospective MEP for Eastern Region
Norwich

To hold onto your ROYAL MAIL please sign PETITION

Fresh from my lobbying visit to Parliament the other day...:
 
http://edmi.parliament.uk/EDMi/EDMDetails.aspx?EDMID=37448&SESSION=899  will tell you if your MP has signed EDM 428. 
 
Has YOUR M.P. signed? I can promise you that if they were a Green MP, they would have done...
 
 
 
 

Wednesday, 25 February 2009

Pictures from Saturday's trip to Wymondham farmer's market

 

FIELD ORGANISERS NEEDED

Do you want to help us make history and get the first-ever Green Party MEP elected in Eastern Region?

This is an opportunity to work as a volunteer [reasonable expenses can be reimbursed] and gain invaluable experience in a target Euro-Region. The posts are open between between March 4 and June 4 ’09. You will be joining a number of other organisers in an Obama-style on-the-ground campaign [‘field’ operation]!

Minimum: half day per week or equivalent;
Minimum period: one month.

The position would ideally be taken by someone living in or near Eastern Region, but if you live elsewhere in Britain and can come and stay here for a month or more to help us out on this full-time, then you are also eligible (we will in that case work to provide you with accommodation).

Job involves [some or all, depending on your preferences and your availability, of] the following: Doing leafleting, mobilising members and potential supporters, writing letters to the local press, helping to create events for visiting Euro-candidates, watching for hustings opportunities…

If you would like to take on this task, then please get in touch. By doing so, you could really help extend the ‘reach’ of the Green Euro-campaign-team, and increase the chances of us breaking through in Eastern Region. You would have the opportunity to join like-minded individuals who are passionate about our cause, while also working alongside already-elected Green politicians and the media. We are very pleased to announce that we have received a lot of support so far, and really hope you can join us on this hugely significant campaign!

Contact: rupertread@fastmail.co.uk for a full job-spec, including a full list of the areas where we are looking for help of this kind. [Please indicate where you would like to organise, especially if it is where you live. Please note: we are looking for field organisers only to cover parts of the region where we are not already strong. We are looking for people to step up our campaign where as yet there are gaps in it.] Bear in mind finally that hands-on experience of a European Election campaign could greatly enhance your CV… Do get in touch!

Sunday, 22 February 2009

Greens Mobilize for 100-day Countdown to Elections [Press release]

 
Greens Mobilize for 100-day Countdown to Elections
 
With exactly one hundred days to go from tomorrow [23rd Feb.] until the European Elections on June 4th, Green Party members from across Eastern England are mobilizing to help elect Dr. Rupert Read as Eastern Region's first Green Party MEP.
 
Rupert Read heads the Green Party's full slate list of 7 candidates (1) for the European Elections. Four of the Green candidates are councillors and all of them live in the region; 3 from Essex, 2 from Suffolk, 1 from Norfolk and 1 from Bedfordshire.
 
With the help of an ever growing team of volunteers, Dr Read has already been touring and speaking with people all across the Region, and has launched the interactive www.rupertread.net and his own youtube channel: www.youtube.com/rupertread.
 
Dr Read said
 
"People are joining us from across the political spectrum, because many of them feel let down by politics as usual. They, like us, want cleaner politics and a greener economy; one that invests in local people and creates sustainable 'Green jobs'. For too long Governments have been letting big businesses and big money call the shots, and look at the mess it's got us in! It's inspiring to see so much support, but it's also a reflection of how much people in the East of England want change".
 
Dr Read is a Norwich City Councillor and is taking a year off from lecturing at the University of East Anglia in order to run for office. The campaign is focusing on what the Greens are calling their 'Green New Deal': giving the people of Eastern England free insulation for their homes, cheaper and more energy efficient public transport, more affordable housing and politics with integrity.
 
The Greens in the UK have had 2 MEPs since 1999 and they are part of the largest united group of MEPs, with Green Parties from across the continent creating a cohesive voice in the Parliament. Dr. Read hopes to join them, and their fight to build a more a localised and stable future for all parts of Europe.
 
In Eastern Region, the number of Green Councillors continues to grow, with a total of 28 Greens now holding seats on Principal Authorities (2) in the region, and in every county. 
 
ENDS
 
 
(2) Not including parish and town councillors, which are additional to that number.

 
WATCH RUPERT'S VIDEO TODAY, WITH 100 DAYS TO GO:

Caroline Lucas on The Politics Show today

REDUCE rail fares: A great snappy letter from Caroline

Sir,
 
Re "Britain's rail fares are by far the hghest in Europe..."
 
Here are your options, then. Vote Labour for the highest rail fares in Europe. Vote Conservative for the same (like last time they were in power). Vote LibDem for what Norman Baker calls "an immediate fare freeze" - that is, freezing rail fares at the hghest level in Europe.
 
Or vote Green. We will commit to spending the £500m a year necessary to bring our rail fares in line with those on the continent. We can easily afford it, given that we're spending up to three times that much each year building, widening and repairing motorways and trunk roads.
 
Yours sincerely
Dr Caroline Lucas MEP
Leader, The Green Party

Wittgenstein and delusion: Letter of mine published in latest issue of LONDON REVIEW OF BOOKS

Simon Blackburn remarks that some commentators on Wittgenstein's Tractatus 'have taken [its] framing remarks very seriously'. That sounds like a good thing. Isn't it wise to try to take seriously what an author says about the purpose and nature of their writings? Blackburn suggests that doing so amounts to treating 'the bulk of the Tractatus [as] some kind of Aunt Sally, written merely as something to be jeered at'. That is a grotesque distortion of the efforts of those of us who have been reading the Tractatus for years, frame, body, warts and all. When one takes the frame seriously, one can see the point in the progressive elucidations in the body of the work: namely, to inhabit the physiognomy of philosophical delusion, which inhabits us so deeply that it would be irresponsible to pretend that one can get outside it and jeer at it.

Rupert Read
University of East Anglia

Friday, 20 February 2009

Supporting 'green' businesses in Brightlingsea

My visit to Brightlingsea on Thursday 19th February.

I visited Brightlingsea on Thursday [yesterday] as part of my ongoing 'listening tour' of East Anglia.  I spoke to a number of the shopkeepers and small businesses in the town asking about their experience of the economic downturn. The owner of Cornflower wholefood shop told me that while people were buying less processed meals and luxury foods they were buying more ingredients to cook their own meals at home. Small local businesses are exactly what is needed to weather the downturn and to build a sense of community and improve our quality of life. I was glad to hear from a number of Brightlingsea businesses that they are coping with the recession so far.

I also visited the offices of the contractors building the large offshore wind farm at Gunfleet Sands.  The Green Party is committed to all kinds of renewable energy production and the Eastern Region has some of the best renewable resources in the country.  Exploiting more of East Anglia's wind and wave power would create more jobs in the area and help us fight the threat of climate chaos by lowering our use of fossil fuels. 

I went on from Brightlingsea to join the protest at Downing Street opposing the proposed third runway at Heathrow. The Green Party supports investment in public transport; the expansion of air travel is profoundly damaging to our shared environment, and would do nothing to benefit our economy here in Eastern Anglia...

Prospective Green MEP attending rally at High Court in support of campaigners against airport expansion [Media release]

HIGH COURT CHALLENGE TO STANSTED AIRPORT DECISION
 
An Appeal will be heard in the High Court over three days - 24, 25 and 26 February, following a legal challenge against the Government's decision to give permission to the BAA to expand Stansted Airport to 35 million passengers per year. A decision is expected in early March. The legal challenge has been brought by Stop Stansted Expansion.
 
Dr. Rupert Read, Prospective Green MEP for Eastern Region, will attend the pre-hearing rally to support the campaigners. The Green Party in Eastern Region has consistently supported the campaigns against expansion at Stansted - and Heathrow, Luton, Southend, Norwich and other airports.
Essex Green Party has been active in the campaign to stop Stansted Airport expanding into the countryside for several decades.
 
There will be a 9.30 am photocall for 10.00 am start on Tuesday 24th February outside the Royal Courts of Justice in the Strand.
Dr. Rupert Read said:
 
"We strongly support the long-standing efforts of Stop Stansted Expansion to thwart the might of the BAA and the Government.
 
"We live in strange times. On the one hand, the UK Government states, in the strongest terms, that it fully accepts the scientific case that manmade climate change is a major threat and that it intends to substantially cut the UK's CO2 emissions. On the other hand, the same Government is pushing ahead with plans to expand Heathrow and Stansted and also supports a raft of other airport expansions, in the full knowledge that this will increase UK CO2 emissions by millions of tonnes per year.
 
"And whilst on the one hand ministers will tell us how important it is to protect the environment and people's quality of life, their Heathrow and Stansted airport expansion plans will result in the destruction of the homes and businesses of thousands of people, the loss of huge tracts of countryside, loss or damage to ancient woodlands and the degradation of quality of life for communities near the airports and under flight paths. In the case of Stansted, this is all to allow even more cheap flights.
 
"No wonder voters have become deeply cynical about traditional politicians. We need a fresh start, and Greens are ready to step up to be part of that process - where our elected politicians say what they mean and mean what they say. If elected as a Green MEP on June 4th, I pledge to consistently oppose further airport expansion and will not deviate from that pledge."
 
ENDS
 
Notes:
 
SSE's legal action will concentrate on three aspects of the Government's decision to approve the extra 10 million passengers a year and the related flights:
 
1. That the increase in carbon dioxide (CO2) and other greenhouse gas emissions, however substantial, can be disregarded;
 
2. That the economic impact on the UK trade deficit, however adverse, can be disregarded;
 
3. That the adverse noise impacts upon local residents and people living further afield cannot amount to a reason for refusal because to do so would frustrate Government policy.
 

Green elected to Jersey 'Parliament'

Daniel Wimberley has been a great help to Norwich Green Party in the past, having visited here on several occasions. I have been canvassing with him - a great bloke. Well done Daniel!

Thursday, 19 February 2009

Green candidate to visit Brentwood

(from http://www.brentwoodweeklynews.co.uk/news/localnews/4130094.Green_candidate_to_visit_Brentwood/)


A GREEN politician will visit Brentwood next weekend to support the town’s bid for Fairtrade status.

Dr Rupert Read, lead candidate for the Green Party for the forthcoming European elections, will be coming to the town on Saturday February 28.

After giving an interview on Phoenix FM he will go to the High Street at 11.30am to meet potential constituents as part of Fairtrade fortnight.

Dr Read, who is a councillor on Norwich City Council, said: “I'm looking forward to listening to what people have got to say to me about their experiences of the recession and about their hopes for the future.

“One of those hopes is surely Fairtrade - that we can make a better world, and an economy that will actually last, by building relationships up with those who supply us with our food and drink, and making sure that every stage of that process is fair.”

Wednesday, 18 February 2009

Airplot!

If it is Thursday it must be Brightlingsea!

On my way to London tomorrow (to attend the anti-Heathrow-expansion rally at Downing Street, and to speak at the 'Forum for European Philosophy' tomorrow evening, on Gramsci and Tolkien), I am heading to Brightlingsea for some hours as part of my ongoing 'listening tour' of East Anglia / Eastern Region.  I am hosted by Bev Maltby the Green Party's local representative.  I will be in Brightlingsea from 11.30 to 3.30 on Thursday 19th and would be happy for anyone to engage me in conversation on political issues.

Greens: Getting Gordon to think again on airport expansion [Press notice]

PRESS NOTICE
from
Eastern Region Green Party

Tuesday 17th February 2009

Getting Gordon to think again on airport expansion

On Thursday afternoon [tomorrow], Rupert Read, the Green Party's lead MEP-candidate for the Eastern Region, is in Westminster to add his voice to the campaign to persuade the Government to think again about Heathrow's third runway.
At a demonstration opposite Downing Street at 5.30pm on Thursday 19th February, people will have a chance to show that they do take the threat of climate change seriously - as loudly and energetically as they can. Speakers at the demonstration are due to include John Mcdonnell MP, Susan Kramer MP and Jean Lambert, Green Party MEP for London.

Commenting on the call for a demonstration, which he will be attending to add the voice of those many people in Eastern Region who don't want a bigger Heathrow, Cllr. Read said:

"The latest warning from a senior climate scientist makes it clear that the threat of catastrophic climate change is far graver and closer than we had ever thought. We now have less than ten years in which to stop and reverse the global growth in greenhouse gas emissions. The expansion of Heathrow brings no additional benefit to a region such as the East of England, but does add to the emissions that are forecast to bring us into the front line of areas at risk from summer droughts and rising seas."

There is expected to be a counter-demonstration, of a group of people calling "for guilt-free travel, for ever-cheaper flights" in nearby Parliament Square.

Rupert Read strongly rebutted this. He said

"If we do nothing about the expansion of air travel right now, there will be ever bigger oceans in which the pro-expansionists can wash their guilty hands. In the long run, 'cheap' flights will just cheapen life."

ENDS

Note:

The Green Party has consistently opposed all major airport expansion, including at Heathrow, Stansted and Luton airports. The party believes that the expansion plans, backed by Gordon Brown and his government, are totally incompatible with the Government's stated policy of combating climate change through substantially reducing UK CO2 emissions.

Councillor Rupert Read will be available live at the demonstration for comment. Contact: 07946 459066

For further information, please contact the Eastern Region Green Party Press Office

01376 584576

07951 923073

www.eastern.greenparty.org.uk

Tuesday, 17 February 2009

My upcoming visit to South Norfolk farmers' markets [Media release]

Councillor Rupert Read, the Lead Green Party Candidate in the East of England for the 4th June 2009 Euro-elections, will visit Farmers Markets around south Norfolk (and, time permitting, north Suffolk) on Saturday 21 February, including the Wymondham, Burston, Harleston and (time permitting) Halesworth and Beccles markets.
 
Last month, Cllr. Read participated in a 10 day tour of East Anglia where he listened to the views and experiences of constituents, and on 7 February 2009 he spent the day hearing the views of North and East Norfolk's farming community and small businesses, so that he can understand the issues that matter to them.  Read will now extend his "listening" tour to the south Norfolk area where there is a high concentration of the local farming community.
 
Rupert Read said

 

"I believe it is important that politicians listen to people, and so that is what I am doing. I found it very useful to hear the experiences of small farmers and smallholders who play a vital role in our local economy in the North and East Norfolk areas, and now it is important I follow this up in the south Norfolk area to show my solidarity with them too.  And finding out their views and concerns will enable me to help them more effectively if I'm elected as their MEP in June this year."

Cllr. Read continued

"I passionately believe in supporting our local economy in Norfolk, and we in the Green Party will always champion local food producers who take pride in what they do and often work long hours to put the best local produce on our tablesThis couldn't be more important than it is today, as the region faces up to a gathering economic crisis. Farmers' markets offer a fine example of a green way of living and of making a living."

"It might be a bit exhuasting to get around 5 farmers' markets on one day: but I bet that it will be worth it, in every sense of the word!"

ENDS.

Rupert Read will be available for interview live at these destinations. Approximate timings: Wymondham 9.30-10; Burston 10.45-11.30; Harleston 11.45-12.30.

Sunday, 15 February 2009

Councillors Rupert Read and Alan Waters, from Labour and Green Parties, call on the BBC to show compassion, and air the appeal for Gaza

At the most recent Norwich City Council meeting, I asked a question of Labour Executive member Cllr. Alan Waters about the BBC's decision last month not to air a humanitarian appeal for Gaza. In an unusual cross-party move, we two have now written jointly to the BBC in Norfolk asking for their support in the quest to get a humanitarian appeal for Gaza aired on the BBC. [ http://edition.cnn.com/2009/WORLD/europe/01/27/sky.bbc.gaza.advert/ ]  The humanitarian situation in Gaza remains absolutely critical.
Here is the text of the letter as sent last week:
_____________________________________________________________________________________________________________________
 

To BBC Norfolk / BBC East;

We write to you  as local politicians who are dismayed that the BBC nationally is refusing to transmit a charity appeal which is aimed at bringing much-needed humanitarian aid to thousands of ordinary people in Gaza.  The BBC's refusal to show the programme unfortunately suggests it is basing its decision on a political judgement when this is very obviously a desperate humanitarian crisis.

We should be doing everything humanly possible to provide the relief and aid the people of Gaza, and their children, so desperately need.  They are living in devastated, inhumane conditions following Israel's prolonged attacks, which killed over 1,300 people, most of whom were civilians, and over 400 of whom were children. There is strong evidence that the Geneva Conventions were gravely breached.

The appeal, which was broadcast on other channels, raised £millions of donations. Support from the BBC could help raise £millions more – and in doing so save lives.


The BBC's having previously aired in recent months and years similar appeals for Burma, Darfur, the Congo makes its decision over Gaza all the more difficult to understand. It opens the Corporation to accusations of pro-Israeli bias. We make the latter point with great regret, since we are strong advocates of public service broadcasting, and we believe that the BBC has a proud history, and hope it will have a strong future.

 

ITV and Channels 4 and 5 have agreed to broadcast the charity appeal, leaving the BBC isolated. We urge you to put pressure on your colleagues at the BBC nationally to change its position; and to ask the BBC nationally for permission to air these appeals on BBC East and BBC Radio Norfolk, in lieu for now of them being broadcast nationally.

Please help end this sad state of affairs, which with each passing day is costing innocent Palestinian lives.

 

We thank you for your consideration of this matter.

Yours Faithfully,

Councillors  Rupert Read (Green), Alan Waters (Labour), on Norwich City Council.

Politics Show on ecotowns - inc. Rupert Read.

 

In case you missed it: ...Politics Show today on ecotowns, inc. myself.  

 

The piece starts at 39 minutes into the programme at:

http://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/episode/b00hlh7h/The_Politics_Show_East_15_02_2009/

The actual studio discussion runs from 52 minutes in to the end.

 

 

 

'Gramsci and 'The Lord of the Rings': Optimism and Pessimism at a Time of Crisis'

Just a quick reminder that I'll be speaking in London on Thursday as part of the Forum For European Philosophy Provocations Series,  where scholars are invited to introduce a short text which has special significance to them.

When: Thursday 19 February, 7.00-8.30pm

Where: Institut Français, 17 Queensberry Place, South Kensington, SW7

The Text: Gramsci and ‘The Lord of the Rings’: Optimism and Pessimism at a Time of Crisis

It should be an interesting evening - Please join me if you can!

Friday, 13 February 2009

1st hustings of the campaign!

I will attending a European Elections hustings event being held by the Norfolk Federation of the Women's Institute on Friday 20 February.

This is clearly a fantastic opportunity for me to find out how the Women's Institute feels about European politics.  The floor will be open to a question and answer session for part of this event, and this will help me discover what issues concern them the most.

It is exciting that the hustings for the Euro-elections are now getting under way. We in the Green Party are looking forward to these events hugely, because, when people hear our message, they start voting for us...

60 members of the Women's Institute are expected to attend the event scheduled to take place at the Methodist Church in Godfrey Road, Spixworth.  Lunch will be held from 12.30 am to 1.15 pm, and the European event will then commence with a short overview of the European Parliament.  The question and answer session will then follow, with proceedings expected to finish by 3.30 pm.

Pictures from the MEPs' celebration last month


With Green Party Leader Caroline Lucas.



Caroline addresses the group (I'm toward the back on the left!)

FAIRTRADE FORTNIGHT 23rd FEBRUARY – 8th MARCH 2009



BRENTWOOD FAIRTRADE CAMPAIGN GROUP ‘WORKING TO MAKE BRENTWOOD A FAIRTRADE TOWN’


Events in the area:
Library displays in Brentwood, Shenfield and Ingatestone
Fairtrade display in the Town Hall

Saturday 28th February at 10.00 am
Phoenix Radio 98 FM pledges to support Fairtrade and the event will be attended by The Mayor & Mayoress Cllr and Mrs. Payne. Listen to interview about Fairtrade with Cllr Rupert Read, Eastern Region European Election candidate.

Saturday 7th March
Fairtrade Information Stall in Chapel Ruins – find out about Fairtrade

These are some of the events to be held in the Borough during Fairtrade fortnight.

Sponsored by: The Co-op, Shenfield, Sainsburys, Brentwood and Marks and Spencer, Brentwood.

FOR MORE INFORMATION ABOUT THE BRENTWOOD CAMPAIGN CONTACT CARYL KWEI ON 01277226834

Remove Sammy Wilson, climate-denying NI 'Environment' Minisiter: Sign the Green Party petition!

Thursday, 12 February 2009

UEA occupation for Gaza ends

I have just received this note from one of the students who were occupying my university:
"Just so you know, the students in occupation have ended the occupation. This was in part, due to a barely veiled threat from the uni saying it couldn't guarantee that security wouldn't break in during the night and forcefully evict the occupation and also in part a signed letter promising negotiations over the issues and agreement over at least some of the demands. For now at least, the direct action is over and we will be presenting a petition to the VC soon."
'Agreement over some of the demands' sounds very promising! That will surely make the whole thing very worthwhile, provided it translates into action.

Gaza occupation: update

I spent this morning at UEA, visiting with the students who are occupying part of the Arts Building, and also speaking with and listening to the views of a range of staff, students, administrators and officers of the student union. The senior administrators that I spoke to seem to me to be quite as concerned as we all are to find a successful, peaceful and timely resolution to this occupation - which is much to their credit. I hope very much that the administration will feel able to offer the courageous student-occupiers a real and significant commitment to some of what the students are asking for, and soon. If this happens, I believe that this dispute could be solved very rapidly indeed.
Like so many of us, I am very concerned about the dreadful suffering of the people of Gaza. I am also concerned that education at UEA should be able to return to normal as soon as possible. If this occupation yields tangible benefits for the students and the people of Palestine, such as books and computers, or a scholarship, then surely it will have been worthwhile. We need to make it worthwhile - let's do so in a way that makes the inconvenience to UEA students and staff just as short as possible. Nobody wants the studies of UEA students to be negatively affected by this.
Let's work together to talk together and get this sorted, so that UEA students and lecturers can get back into the classrooms; and so that students and lecturers in Gaza can be helped by us to rebuild their shattered universities and shattered lives.

From inside the uea occupation: talking with a few of the students

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Coverage of the UEA occupation

Wednesday, 11 February 2009

Green Party supports brave souls occupying Arts Building at UEA, in solidarity with students in Gaza

OK, here's a longer comment from me:
 
"I applaud the student protesters and their admirable stand against the slaughter of civilians in Gaza. Their peaceful occupation (of the building in UEA where I have an office) stands in symbolic contrast to the brutal Israeli occupation of Palestine.
"The key to peace and to security for all sides in the conflict, is justice. This requires Israel to cease its disproportionate violence against Palestine, and to end its occupation and withdraw to its pre-1967 borders, thus allowing for the creation of a viable, independent and sovereign Palestinian state. In reciprocation, armed Palestinian groups should cease their attacks on Israelis.
"The University of East Anglia has an ethical investment policy, which I helped pioneer a decade ago. So UEA has already disinvested from BAE and other companies that supply arms to Israel. Now UEA needs to take the next steps forward: UEA should express its solidarity with people struggling to study in the terrible environment that they find themselves in in Gaza, by funding scholarships for Palestinian students. UEA should begin the process of twinning with one of the Universities in Gaza (this will make it legally easier for the UEA to send aid). And UEA should commit to supplying education aid to the University of Gaza: for example, old computers and text books should be sent there to help replenish the resources destroyed in the recent bombardment.
"These are the demands of the students at UEA. I offer my encouragement and respect to them, as they struggle for the rights of students in Palestine. It is good to show such care about fellow human beings, even though they be thousands of miles away. We can all learn from the stand of these young people.
"These are extraordinary times. Israel is in breach of the Geneva Conventions with its war and siege on Gaza. It still occupies Palestine. In such cases the Green Party fully backs such peaceful protest as is going on right now at UEA."
 
I will be going onto campus early in the morning of tomorrow, Thursday 12 February, to meet with the students engaged in the occupation. 
 
p.s. Check out  http://www.counterpunch.org/nlg02092009.html  A Report from Gaza: Strong Indications of Israeli War Crimes  By U.S. NATIONAL LAWYERS GUILD

UEA is being occupied by students protesting against the situation in Gaza!

 
My comment is this [I'll post something more detailed in the morning]:
 
Respect to the student occupiers at UEA, as they struggle for the rights of students in Palestine. It is good to show such care about fellow human beings, even though they be thousands of miles away. We can all learn from the stand of these courageous young people.

These are extraordinary times. Israel is in breach of the Geneva Conventions with its war and siege on Gaza. It still occupies Palestine. It has made the lives of students in Gaza almost impossible. In such cases the Green Party clearly backs such peaceful protest as is going on right now at UEA.

More On Banker's Bonuses

There are now 12,500 signatures on the Give Up The Bonus petition (to stop RBS handing out the bonuses) and more than 6,200 people are now on the Facebook group, No Ifs, No Buts.

But there's still work to do and your help is needed.

Tomorrow afternoon, the Group Chief Executive of RBS, Stephen Hester - a man who has the power to stop the bonuses - goes in front of the Treasury Select Committee at the House of Commons.

No doubt he will probably say sorry like his former colleagues did yesterday.

Sorry is a start - but not the end of the matter.

It's claimed Stephen hasn't made his mind up on the issue. So let's see if we can help make his mind up for him.

Here are a list of things that you can do to keep the pressure up.

1. If you're on Facebook, change your Facebook status to ask people to sign www.giveupthebonus.co.uk.

2. Email and Facebook your friends about the campaign, get them to join us and sign the petition

3. Send on this viral to your friends to show your support - http://tinyurl.com/dlclxh

4. Send an email to your local paper or call in to radio phone-ins.

Let's send Stephen Hester a loud and clear message that we won't stand for this.

Bank bonuses - isn't still-having-a-salary enough?

The recent apologies of top bankers before the House of Commons Select Committee are not enough. This appalling financial meltdown, and the obscene greed that fuelled it -- for example, bankrupt Royal Bank of Scotland paid 20,000 people an average bonus of 100 grand each, in 2007 -- must never happen again.
Eastern Region Green Party says that there is only one way to guarantee that: the banks must be taken into public ownership. Not just those that are already basket-cases; all of them.
This is what the old politicians from the old parties will never dare to do, and it is why it is time for a radical change, time to get Greens elected en masse to Brussels and to Westminster, time for a Green New Deal. The public must control the banks: the government should intervene now, and simply cancel all bonuses for high-earning bankers. These people are lucky to have a job at all: where was the bail-out for the workers at Woolworths? Bankers should be glad that they are not out on the street: a salary, and not bonuses, should be quite enough for them.
To stop the plain-wrong 'bonus culture' at the banks, WE the people must control them. And not just as a temporary measure, but permanently. For otherwise, they will in future simply cream off money in the good times, and wait for us to bail them out again when they drive into the wall again...
 

Tuesday, 10 February 2009

Film, 'The age of stupid', will come to Norwich...

 
You heard it here first - the great new eco-drama-documentary will be coming to Norwich, in March, BEFORE it goes on general release...
 
This will be an event!

Gaza Appeal Petition

Please take the time to sign the petition below urging the Prime Minister to call on the BBC to broadcast the DEC Gaza appeal.

http://petitions.number10.gov.uk/decgaza/

Keep the Post Public - No 10 ePetition

I have just signed this:
 http://petitions.number10.gov.uk/Royal-Mail-Sale/
The petition reads:
We the undersigned petition the Prime Minister to reject any part privatisation or minority stake sale of Royal Mail which could lead to loss of service, price hikes and would erode a much loved public service.
A petition to keep a much loved public service fully intergrated and wholly in the public sector.
Could I ask readers of 'Rupert's read' to please add your names and feel free to pass onto friends, family and anyone in your address book that will support this campaign...

Monday, 9 February 2009

Appalling NI 'Environment' Minister: climate-denier

Green candidate visits and supports North Norfolk farmers' markets [press release]

Councillor Rupert Read, the Lead Green Party Candidate in Eastern Region for the 4th June 2009 Euro-elections, visited Farmers Markets around Norfolk on Saturday Feb. 7, including the Stalham and Aylsham markets.

Last month, Cllr. Read participated in a 10 day tour of the Eastern Region where he listened to the views and experiences of constituents. Last Saturday he spent the day hearing the views of North and East Norfolk's farming community and small businesses, so that he can understand the issues that matter to them.

Rupert Read said

"I believe it is important that politicians listen to people, and so that is what I am doing. I found it very useful to hear the experiences of small farmers and smallholders who play a vital role in our local economy. Finding out their views and concerns will enable me to help them more effectively if I'm elected as their MEP in June this year."
Cllr. Read continued

"I passionately believe in supporting our local economy in Norfolk, and this couldn't be more important than it is today, as the region faces up to a gathering economic crisis. In Stalham on Saturday I spoke to a number of people - shoppers and small businesspeople - who testified to the negative impact of Tesco on their town. Farmers' markets by contrast offer a fine example of a green way of living and of making a living."

Cllr. Read spent the day at various spots across North Norfolk including Stalham Farmers Market and Aylsham Farmers Market.

ENDS.

Contact:

Rupert Read 07946 459066

Phil Hardy (Norfolk Green Party Press Officer) 01603 469752

My open letter to the BBC, on the Gaza appeal...

To BBC Norfolk / BBC East;


I write to you today as a local politician who finds himself in shock and disbelief that the BBC nationally is still refusing to transmit a charity appeal which would have brought much-needed humanitarian aid to thousands of ordinary people in Gaza.  The BBC's refusal to show the appeal unfortunately suggests that they are making political judgements when this is surely not their role: leading politicians from all the Parties have expressed opposition to their position on this. 
 
We in the so-called "civilised" world should be doing everything humanly possible to provide the relief and aid the people of Gaza, and their children, so desperately need.  They are living in devastated, inhumane conditions following Israel's prolonged attacks, which killed over 1,300 people, most of whom were civilians, and over 400 of whom were children.  The BBC's denial of support for the professional aid agencies will deny the tens of thousands of Palestinian civilians the millions of pounds in aid that could help make a difference to their plight. When the appeal was broadcast earlier this week on other channels, millions of pounds of donations immediately poured in. Think how much the BBC could help, in this regard: help, to save lives. As it has done before: in Darfur, in Congo, in Vietnam…

To say it again: ITV and Channels 4 and 5 have agreed to broadcast the charity appeal (and have raised handsome sums to help Gazans, by doing so), leaving the BBC fairly isolated. We urge you to put pressure on your colleagues at the BBC nationally to change its position on this matter, and restore public faith in the BBC as public service broadcaster. We beseech you, also, to ask the BBC nationally for permission to air these appeals on BBC East and BBC Radio Norfolk, in lieu for now of them being broadcast nationally.

I thank you for your consideration of this matter. If the BBC does not soon change its stance on this, then I will be urging Director-General Mark Thompson shortly to consider his position. I hope that you, who I know and trust from my contacts with you day-to-day in dealings over local and regional matters, can help the BBC nationally sort out its stance on this, and catch up with public opinion on this issue.

The BBC is worried that its airing of this appeal would compromise its reputation for impartiality. One the contrary: its reputation for impartiality is being seriously undermined, every day that it continues to hold out against broadcasting the appeal. Please help end this sad state of affairs, which with each passing day is costing innocent Palestinian lives.

Faithfully,

Cllr. Rupert Read (Green Party).

National Savings - the new Post Office scandal

I am very concerned at the recently-announced decision (1) by National Savings & Investments (NS&I) to deprive tens of thousands of its savers of the right to deposit their savings at the Post Office.
 
This is bad for the elderly, who want the security of depositing their money in person at their local Post Offices. Seven out of ten people over the age of 65 don't have access over the internet and many people don't like the idea of sending money through the post.
 
More than a quarter of a million savers have chosen the security of a cash ISA.  Even though these accounts pay a poor rate of return, they offer security. This is especially important for the elderly, who are seeing their savings elsewhere under threat or earning them little or nothing.
 
The decision will also further damage the Post Office network and rob it of more regular customers, at a time when the Government are describing the Post Office as potentially a "people's bank".
 
NS&I's arguments hold little water. They say that that only 26 per cent of their customers use the Post Office to manage their ISA accounts: but what organisation disregards the needs of a quarter of its customers ?  They also say that few vulnerable, elderly people would be affected. How many old and vulnerable people have to be affected before it becomes a serious issue ? This appears to be another 'slash and burn' approach to operational costs, regardless of "less profitable" customers' needs. 
 
NS&I is a Government-owned savings institution. The Labour Party was elected to supposedly improve the lot of the elderly. At a time when the Government is pouring money into private financial institutions, it must spare a thought for NS&I and its customers.
 
 
Notes:
 
(1)
 
 
 

Saturday, 7 February 2009

Stiglitz on bank nationalisation

 
This is a must-read.
 
This Nobel Laureate, an impressive critic of neoliberal globalisation, is copying what I have been saying on Rupert's Read for months...    ;-)

Friday, 6 February 2009

www.rupertread.net

Check out my new 'squeeze-page': www.rupertread.net . I am pretty chuffed about it... Let me know what you think! Leave a comment on the guest book there...
 

My latest touring...

I'm off to Ipswich and Suffolk Coastal this afternoon, weather permitting!
 
My key stop will be in Woodbridge on the Suffolk coast, to find out the issues and concerns that really matter to the local people there.
 
Last month, I participated in a 10 day tour of the Eastern Region where he listened to the views and experiences of constituents.  This Friday afternoon, I will continue this exercise at The Seal Public House in Woodbridge, and then elsewhere in Suffolk Coastal area.
 
I believe it is important that politicians listen to people, and so that is what I am doing.  We are living in testing times, both economically and environmentally, and finding out how the public feels, what they believe and what concerns them will enable me to help them more effectively if I'm elected as their MEP in June this year.
 
Then after that I am going onto Witham in Essex to join Greens there for a pub quiz this evening.
 
Tomorrow morning, I will be visiting Farmers Markets around Norfolk, including the Stalham and Aylsham markets.
 
I passionately believe in supporting our local economy, and this couldn't be more important than it is today, as the region faces up to a gathering economic crisis.  I hope to learn how our farmers are coping and to find out how I, as an MEP, could best support them.  I recently raised a formal objection to Tesco's planning application to double the size of their store in Stalham which would have an adverse impact on the local farming community, and I need to hear from them first-hand what other issues are key to them today.

 

I.e. I will attend Stalham Farmers Market (along with other Greens) from 9.30 am this Saturday, followed by Aylsham Farmers Market from around 11 am.

Wednesday, 4 February 2009

Four Months to go to the European Elections - Prospective MEP says Europe-wide Green New Deal vital as economic outlook worsens

Four months ahead of the European Elections, Prospective Green MEP for Eastern Region, Cllr. Rupert Read has called for a Green New Deal for Europe as a vital measure to halt the economic slide and to help to build a sustainable future.
 
Cllr. Read said
 
"I have recently been on a tour of Eastern Region, meeting people in many communities, and it is clear that concerns about the economy are widespread.
 
"Decisions made in the European Parliament could help Britain come out of the recession with a stronger, greener economy. Or they could do the opposite. So we need to send more Greens from Britain to join the 42 Green MEPs who are already fighting for a better economic future.
While the other parties talk green, they don't deliver. A stronger Green voice in Europe can help divert funding from unsustainable roadbuilding and nuclear power projects into greener transport, green waste management, green energy and better insulation for our homes. By getting the funding for green projects, we'll create more jobs per mile, per tonne, per megawatt and per pound."

The Greens are pointing to worldwide demands for a Green New Deal - from the UN, from newly elected US President Barack Obama and California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, and from countries like Japan and Korea. But they are also warning about British politicians jumping on a bandwagon they are not really committed to.
 
Cllr. Read said
 
"In Britain politicians can be quick to jump on the bandwagon for the sake of popularity. We need to make sure real Greens get elected - the politicians who have been proposing these measures for many years, who really understand the issues and who are genuinely committed to action.
 
"In the proportional elections on June 4th every Green vote will count. It's a brilliant opportunity to get more Greens into positions where they can help sort out the recession. The policies for creating new jobs and sustainable industries are the same policies we need to tackle the climate crisis. Its a positive, 'win-win' manifesto in these difficult times."

ENDS
 
Notes:
 
1. Tomorrow, it will be exactly four months to go before the next major round of elections in the UK on Thursday June 4th at which voters will have the opportunity to elect their MEPs for the next 5 years and County Councillors (where these elections are held).
 
This will be a major electoral test for all parties, but polls show that increasingly, voters are becoming fed up with the "main" parties and are looking for an alternative.
 
The Green Party has consistently secured its highest nationwide vote share at the European Elections, with more than a million people voting Green in 2004. Every voter in Eastern Region and the UK will have Green candidates to vote for. 
 
The Green Party in Eastern Region is working hard to secure its first MEP, to join the 2 Green MEPs who have held seats in London and South East regions since 1999, when the proportional voting system was first introduced.
 
At the time of the 1999 elections, there were just 2 Green Party Principal Authority Councillors in Eastern Region. There are now 28, with the Green Group on Norwich City Council becoming the official opposition in 2008. There are also now Green Councillors in every county in the region. Since 1999, membership of the Green Party in the region has also risen.

Tuesday, 3 February 2009

Snow highlights over-reliance on travel to work [Media release]


Norfolk Green Party Questions Snow Disruption and Call For Urgent Measures to Help our Region's Most Vulnerable
 
Norfolk Green Party has spoken out against the widespread disruption to Norwich's transport infrastructure yesterday, caused by 2 inches of snow.  The Green Party has also re-emphasised the growing need for quality insulation in our county and our region, especially for those experienceing fuel poverty.
 
The Green Party candidate for MEP for the Eastern Region in the 4 June 2009 Euro-elections, Councillor Rupert Read, said, "The snow has shown how vulnerable Norwich's economy is to its workers travelling excessive distances and how it can so easily break under pressure.  Most people would prefer to work within walking or cycling distance of where they live, yet because of a lack of joined-up thinking where planning is concerned, lack of affordable housing in the city and a tendency for investment in new jobs to be concentrated in Norwich rather than spreading them more widely to areas that need them, sadly for most this is not possible."
 
Read continued, "The Green Party's aim is to invest in new jobs where people live and create integrated developments that mean that more people can walk or cycle to work or school.  With today's environmental concerns, we must question why a person living in Norwich travels all the way to Ipswich every morning, while someone else doing the same job travels in the opposite direction every day.  This causes unnecessary congestion and avoidable pollution, and adds a couple of hours to workers' days, adversely affecting the quality of their lives and the amount of quality time they can spend with their families."
 
Norfolk Green Party also renewed its campaign to help the most vulnerable people living in fuel poverty in this region.  Read said, "In 2008, the Green Party petitioned the government to provide grants to help people living in fuel poverty, including pensioners and families with children, pay their bills by installing solar panels in their houses.  We also called on the government to levy a windfall tax on the energy companies following their unethical price rises so help could be given to the poorest people in our society.  Today we Greens are stressing the urgent need to improve our region's housing stock through insulation and other home energy measures.  More and more people live in fuel poverty today and the number will undoubtedly rise as the recession deepens.  Urgent help is now needed for the most vulnerable people in our society who will have to make the choice between heating and eating."
 
Read continued, "Universal insulation is the best way devised to tackle fuel poverty and climate change at the same time, and like the Green New Deal - which tackles both the economic downturn and manmade climate change - the dual benefits of our policies cannot be overestimated. It is just common sense, not to have money in effect wafting out of the roofs and walls of our Region's houses."
 
 

Podcast III - Hopes For The Obama Administration



'Rupert talks today in his podcast about how his greast hope for the Obama administration is not connected so much with Obama being a black President - it is easy for the system to co-opt outstanding individuals from hitherto excluded races, sexes, classes etc - but rather to do with the unprecendented and radical electoral mass movement that brought him to power, and may now hold America's political system to account.'

On The Campaign Trail in Leigh on Sea

                         


Clockwise from top left:

1. At award winning Chalkwell Beach.
2. At vegetarian restaurant 'My Kitchen'.
3. Door to door!
4. The Green Team.

Monday, 2 February 2009

Stuck in Oxford

Because of this little spell of snow... Anxious to get back to my Region!

...Renatioanalise the railways! ...How can it be that so little snow virtually shuts down our country? This really is a pitiful state of affairs...

1. 2. 3. Rupert's Read: February 2009 4. 12. 15. 18. 19. 20. 21.

Rupert's Read

22. 23. 31. 32.