Monday, 31 January 2011
Sunday, 30 January 2011
#Yes2AV letter of mine in PROSPECT
Peter Kellner's piece (Jan. '11) on how the Parliamentary Voting System and Constituencies Bill badly underestimates the effect that AV will have on the composition of the Commons.
Because it puts an end to the main form of tactical voting and to the 'wasted vote' argument, AV changes the expressed first preferences of voters. For example, the rise of the Greens in Australia has been predicated on growing numbers of Aussies voting Green even if and where the Greens have little chance of winning; voters can affords to do this, because their second preferences etc will still count.
If the AV referendum goes through, expect much more substantial changes to British politics (than Kellner has woken up to) - including an accelerated rise for the Green Party.
C'llr. Rupert Read, one of 21 Norwich Green Councillors
Eastern Region Green Party calls for MPs & govt to put pressure on #Mubarak to democratise now
"We are concerned about the de facto militarisation of the Egyptian government, when what is really needed is a swift and clear promise of _democratisation_. We praise the bravery of those protesting against the dictatorial Mubarak regime. We call on our MPs and our government to exert the strongest possible economic and diplomatic pressure on the Egyptian regime to refrain from treating protesters with violence and brutality, and to concede forthwith the free and fair elections that are their main demand."
Stand with #Egypt!
The protesters have appealed for international solidarity, but the dictatorship knows the power of unity at a time like this – they've desperately tried to cut Egyptians off from the world and each other by completely shutting down the internet and mobile networks.
Satellite and radio networks can still break through the regime blackout -- let's flood those airwaves with a massive cry of solidarity showing Egyptians that we stand with them, and that we'll hold our governments accountable to stand with them too. The situation is at a tipping point -- every hour counts -- click below to sign the solidarity message, and forward this email:
People power is sweeping the Middle East. In days, peaceful protesters brought down Tunisia's 30-year dictatorship. Now the protests are spreading to Egypt, Yemen, Jordan and beyond. This could be the Arab world's Berlin Wall moment. If tyranny falls in Egypt, a tidal wave of democracy could sweep the entire region.
Egyptian dictator Hosni Mubarak has tried to crush the rallies. But with incredible bravery and determination, the protesters keep coming.
There are moments when history is written not by the powerful, but by people. This is one of them. The actions of ordinary Egyptians in the coming hours will have a massive effect on their country, the region, and our world. Let's cheer them on with our own pledge to stand with them in their struggle:
Mubarak's family has left the country, but last night he ordered the military into the streets. He's ominously promised 0 tolerance for what he calls 'chaos'. Either way, history will be made in the next few days. Let's make this the moment that shows every dictator on our planet that they cannot stand long against the courage of people united.
With hope and admiration for the Egyptian people,
Ricken, Rewan, Ben, Graziela, Alice, Kien and the rest of the Avaaz team
Egypt unrest: Alert as mass protests loom
Egyptian government shuts down the Internet
North Africa: Will dominoes fall in the region?
'Beginning of the end' for Egypt's Mubarak as son and wife flee
Amnesty International condemns the crackdown on demonstrations
Regular updates are being posted by Egyptian activists here:
ACCESS campaign for digital freedom in Egypt:
Friday, 28 January 2011
#Egypt: What I have just written to MPs
Thursday, 27 January 2011
Egypt and Tunisia - an inspiration
programme on the BBC World Service.
The interview, beginning at about 26'4" into the programme, is with two young
people: Ahmed in Cairo (whose phone is intermittently jammed by the
dictatorship) and Sanay in Tunis.
They express mutual support and solidarity. Their revolution is one.
Near the end of the interview, at about 30'48', the BBC guy asks Sanay: "Do you think history
is on your side?"
And without a milli-second hesitation, she delivers the right answer:
"We are making history; people are making history!"
‘One World Column’ relaunched as blog for East Anglia’s progressive majority...
The One World Column was for six years a regular weekly feature in the Eastern Daily Press, commenting on issues including international development, poverty, globalisation, peacemaking, human rights, international relations and the environment. It also commented on local news from a global perspective. The column was written by a rotating team of six volunteer writers and also published on its own website. When the EDP terminated the weekly column, the writers decided to produce a blog and develop a partnership with progressive organisations with similar interests. Campaigning groups and charities will provide guest writers and news – and network the blog to their organisations' supporters, creating a wide audience.
The blog was launched last night at a party at the East of England Production Innovation Centre (EPIC) in Norwich. The event was attended by forty guests from independent media, social enterprises, environment organisations, trades unions, charities and political campaigns.
One World Column blog will be:
- a focal point for news and comment on local events linked to global themes
- a link to progressive local NGOs and campaigns and their work - a fresh voice from East Anglia, completely independent of corporate media interests - a place where ideas and information are shared - a forum for guest writers on 'one world' themes, especially young writers
- a medium with audio-visual and other new elements, too.
...In a time of increasing global dangers and national political challenges it is important to bring local progressives into supportive partnerships. We want to establish a relationship with other independent media, like-minded writers, progressive campaigns, NGOs, artists and others throughout the region - to develop the One World Column as an asset for us all - reaching members and supporters of our organisations plus the wider public. Organisations can write to (explain how ) to be part of this venture.
Tuesday, 25 January 2011
David Fleming - a great man
Thursday, 20 January 2011
RR on the Beeb on fuel prices
Wednesday, 19 January 2011
PHILOSOPHY AND PUBLIC POLICY: MAKING AN IMPACT
Tuesday, 18 January 2011
Tony Blair - war criminal: the final verdict
Guardians for the future: A talk
UEA Law School Research Seminar Series Spring 2011
I'm kicking off this series:
I'm kicking off this series:
Wednesdays at 4.30pm in Blackdale Building room 0.32. Please direct any questions to Magda Raczynska M.Raczynska AT uea.ac.uk (research seminar convenor, UEA Law School).
Dr Rupert Read (PHI)
Guardians for Future Generations; a Radical Proposal
Wittgenstein as WorldWarII writer - my piece appears in NLH.
41, 3 (2010)
Edited by Rita Felski
Forthcoming issues include "Character," "Context?" and " In the Mood."
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Australia's floods: Debate on the role of Global Warming - Senator Bob Brown
Bob's call follows the observations by climate scientists that global warming is lifting more water vapour into the air, so increasing the intensity of torrential downpours, especially in Australia's north. Professor David Karoly from the University of Melbourne's School of Earth Sciences said that "Australia has been known for more than a hundred years as a land of droughts and flooding rains, but what climate change means is Australia becomes a land of more droughts and worse flooding rains." http://www.theage.com.au/environment/fates-conspire-to-concoct-a-recipe-for-disaster-20110111-19mp7.html
Sadly, the Queensland Government also wants to avoid looking at long term causal issues of the floods. Queensland Premier Anna Bligh has started the process of finding answers in the aftermath of the floods by calling a commission of inquiry, but the terms of reference for the Inquiry have given little, if any, explicit consideration of the role of climate change. This is a strange omission, given that only three months ago the state published an assessment of the potential impacts of climate change. The report said "Climate change is also likely to affect extreme rainfall in south-east Queensland (and) the projected increase in rainfall intensity could result in more flooding events."
Coal barons should help pay for catastrophes - Brown
Sunday 16th January 2011
The full tax on excess profits by the coal mining industry, as recommended by Treasury, should be imposed with half set aside for future natural catastrophes in Australia, Greens Leader Bob Brown said in Hobart today.
"It is unfair that the cost is put on all taxpayers, not the culprits," Senator Brown said.
"Burning coal is a major cause of global warming. This industry, which is 75% owned outside Australia, should help pay the cost of the predicted more severe and more frequent floods, droughts and bushfires in coming decades. As well, 700,000 seaside properties in Australia face rising sea levels."
"A Goldman Sachs study found that the reduction in the mining super tax agreed by the current Labor government (the coalition opposes the mining tax) would cost Australians $35 billion in forgone revenue to 2019-20."
"Scientists agree that current floods come from record-high temperatures of Australian oceans this season."
"We also ask insurers to show some compassion to Queensland's flood victims, and to others who face loss as wild weather besets the country. Many people believe they have flood cover and, if not, the fine print should have been disclosed to them."
17 January 2011
The Role of Global Warming
After the hottest and wettest year in recorded history, the seas off
northern Australia are also currently warmer than ever before. This
heat has led to increased evaporation and so, rainfall.
Sceptics and defenders of the coal industry may dispute this scientific
data, but they don't. Instead, they are arguing that there should be no
debate - not, at least, until some undefined time in the future when the
cataclysm has passed and its injuries are behind us.
A week after the "inland tsunami" struck the Toowoomba region, with the
flood crest having passed in Brisbane, and Rockhampton beginning to
recover, Australia's newspapers are now carrying letters expressing
frustration at the absence of debate on the causes of the floods across
the nation and, indeed, in Brazil, Sri Lanka and Pakistan.
Like the drought, heatwaves and bushfires these floods are predictable
calamities and worse is in store as the planet is heated by human
We may collectively choose to do nothing about the rapidly increasing of
burning of coal, here and overseas, from coal being mined in Australia
by wealthy corporations largely owned overseas. However, that choice
should not be made without informed debate. If there is a later time
better for this crucial debate to begin, let the critics name it.
Australian Greens Leader
Green Drinks: Shifting Cultural Values | The Green Dragon, 18th January, 7:30pm
Green Drinks Tonight: Shifting Cultural Values
With Dr. Rupert Read, reader in philosophy at the University of East Anglia, co-founder of values-change blog Green Words Workshop and Norwich Green Party Councillor.
The Green Dragon, 18th January, 7:30pm
To date our Green Drinks themes have had quite a practical focus, but this month we're tackling something that at first glance seems a little more esoteric - shifting cultural values. In fact it's pretty much central to all Sustainable Bungay's projects and is at the heart of Transition; but we generally only acknowledge it in so much as we recognise that, if we're to tackle climate change, come to terms with finite resources and cope with a radical economic readjustment we'll have to change the way we think about each other and the world. At Green Drinks this month, and with the help of Dr. Rupert Read, we'll delve a little deeper.
Ready to be nudged?
The Government is keen to 'nudge' us into making 'better' choices and believes that this approach could replace regulation to help it achieve its commitments to public health, the environment and well-being. But many argue that without big shifts in our values, approaches that attempt to shape behaviour are likely to have little impact in a culture where the consumer is still king and economic growth is the most important measure of national success.
A Common Cause
At our first Green Drinks evening we talked briefly about a report called Common Cause: The Case for Working with our Cultural Values published by a consortium of organsiations including WWF, Friends of the Earth, Oxfam and the Campaign to Protect Rural England. The report makes a clear case for a wide range of civil society organisations to work together in order to strengthen those cultural values that have been shown to underpin people's concern about a whole range of problems - from climate change to global poverty. It goes on to argue that the public will only put enough pressure on politicians if they place greater emphasis on those 'intrinsic' values (which include the value we place on things like relationships with other people, the natural world, a sense of place/belonging).
We've invited Dr. Rupert Read, reader in philosophy at the UEA, co-founder of values-change blog Green Words Workshop and Norwich Green Party Councillor to help us think about some of these issues. As usual we'll ask Rupert to speak for 5 or 10 minutes then open the floor for questions and a general discussion before breaking up into smaller informal conversations. It's never possible to say exactly what will come up at Green Drinks but we might talk about;
- What kinds of values do we need to shift to and what are we moving away from - is it as simple as a move from 'Me' to 'We'?
- How can we strengthen the kinds of intrinsic values outlined in the Common Cause report and bring them to the fore locally?
- Should we begin talking to other local groups about emphasizing these values? How?
And much more besides... there is bound to be a lively discussion!
It would be great to see you there.
(on behalf of Sustainable Bungay)
Sustainable Bungay is a community-led response to peak oil and climate change and is part of the Transition Town Network: www.sustainablebungay.com
Bank regulation - an exciting precedent
which describes an approach to re-regulating the banking system being taken in South Korea.
Thursday, 13 January 2011
Given that context, where now, for Irish political economy, and in particular for we on the Left and in the Green movement, to whom surely the chain of events that led to the baiout looks particularly wrong, particularly venal and disastrous?
So: I was phoned up recently at random by MORI, for an opinion poll. One of the main questions was: “Do you think that Britain help should bail out Ireland to stop it going bankrupt?” This question helpfully brings out an insane inconsistency in the current British governmental approach to debt and pump-priming. According to Osborne, Cameron, Clegg and Cable, the British government must pump a few billion into the Irish economy in order to stop it from going under …while it is taking a lot more billions out of the British economy … to stop it from going under. Is that a contradiction? Is the Pope Catholic?
If something’s good for the Irish goose, then it’s also good for the British gander.
Here then is the germ of a suggestion for how the Irish Green Party, which faces to say the least a difficult electoral challenge, might put clear green water between itself and Fianna Fail, in the run-up to the likely upcoming General Election in Ireland. Why not stand firm on the kind of rejection of cuts that the Green Party over here in Britain has stood firmly on; and argue that, if there is to be a bail-out in Ireland, then it should be accepted only on the basis of the nationalised banks being truly nationalised, truly run in the public interest?
To the objection that this kind of proposal is unfeasible in modern capitalist economies, we can reply simply by pointing people to the example of Brazil, where around half of all banking takes place through the national Banco do Brasil. This doesn’t seem to have held back their development…
So: Greens in Ireland could fight the election promising to work for a solution like that that is, since I proposed a motion that was successful to Green Party Conference this autumn, party policy in England and Wales. Namely, that there should be at least one large permanently nationalised bank (say RBS, in our case) truly government-controlled and setting its interest-rates in the public interest, and consistent with macro-economic policy. The key point here of course being: Banking is a public service. The other remaining commercial banks would have to follow suit to a large extent, if they wanted any substantial amount of business from ordinary retail lenders and borrowers. The permanently-nationalised retail bank might be called the Bank of Britain. (In Ireland, the name the Bank of Ireland suggests itself…) Or: the People’s Bank.
Standing up firmly in favour of banking being run as a public service and against bail-outs that allow continued private dominance of profits even when the losses have been socialised would be a way in which the Irish Greens, like their British counterparts, could gain the moral and political high ground. It would set them radically apart from Fianna Fail. If the Irish banks are going to get bailed out, then Ireland needs to think about how a solution can emerge from that that does not simply create the conditions for a new crisis, and that preserves [creates] banking as a genuine public service for the Irish people.
This proposal offers a way to do this.
And, excitingly, it could help pave the way to what many of us believe is the only longer-term solution to the kind of crisis that has gripped the world in the last 3 years: changing the role of the banks in making money. The role of creating the national money supply should be moved away from private banks, firmly back toward the state. Creating genuine People’s Banks will make this goal of monetary reform — now somewhat-astonishingly even on Mervyn King’s agenda, as an alternative to the mad privatised monetary system that we have at present — more achievable, and much more natural-looking, than it currently is.
Sunday, 9 January 2011
7%! New LibDem poll low!
Palin beyond the pale
#AV : Ask your MP if they are backing #Yes2AV (and if not, why not!)
Thursday, 6 January 2011
Last week they published a list of 114 Labour MPs. Within a matter of hours it emerged that at least one MP on the list had not given them his consent. By yesterday, the count was up to 5: http://www.leftfootforward.org/2011/01/no2av-campaign-gaffe/
Now it turns out that Barry Sheerman MP, far from being a No supporter, is an outspoken Yes campaigner: http://www.examiner.co.uk/news/local-west-yorkshire-news/2011/01/06/huddersfield-mp-barry-sheerman-to-campaign-in-favour-of-alternative-vote-86081-27938126/
This of course comes after they wrongly declared that Michael Gove was a supporter: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-politics-11845177
They do seem to be in a mess about this. While yestofairervotes.org are, it seems to me, going from strength to strength!