Monday, 31 March 2008

Free publicity for the Green Party! - Norfolk Blogger hoist by his own petard...

Intriguing post here, over at Norfolk Blogger:

[Do read the original post by Darren Johnson too, which is excellent.]

What I find amusing is that Norfolk Blogger has blown his top at the giving of extra publicity to the Green Party, and, by means of doing so, has of course... given extra publicity to the Green Party!
Nice own goal there, Norfolk Blogger! Thanks!!

Stopping future Flybe scam flights

  Norwich Airport and the airline 'Flybe' are making national and international headlines today in the worst possible of ways. Flybe recently hired actors to fly on extra flights that it laid on specially, and pointlessly, in order to reach targets for passenger numbers laid down by Norwich Airport.

  Norwich City Council is a shareholder in Norwich Airport.


  My comment on this: "This story is an absolute farce. Flybe have brought disgrace upon themselves and upon Norwich Airport through their actions. What is needed now is for Norwich Airport to alter their rules, so that never again are there economic incentives on airlines to engage in this kind of systematic deception and utterly anti-environmental behaviour. For example, a charge made by the Airport per flight upon airlines would discourage empty or extra flights, and incentivise airlines to fill up what flights they laid on with bona fide – paying! – passengers. Norwich City Council is a shareholder in Norwich Airport, and the Leader of the Council has a seat on the Airport Board. The Green Party Councillors will therefore be pressing the Council to use their influence on the Airport to make these much-needed changes. Never again must an airline put on extra flights and hire fake passengers in order to make money at the expense of us all."


Here is some of the coverage of this story:

Thursday, 27 March 2008


Green Party Principal Speaker Caroline Lucas MEP will be launching the
national Green Party local elections campaign in Norwich.

Thursday 3rd April, 5pm, outside the Forum, Norwich City Centre

Green Principal Speaker Caroline Lucas will be in Norwich on 3rd April
to launch the Green Party national local election campaign.
The Norwich Green Party will also be launching their local election
campaign, where they expect record gains on May 1st when they are
projected to become the second party on the Council.
Dr. Lucas and Norwich Green Party councillors and candidates will be
launching the campaign, and will be available for photographs and
Dr. Lucas, MEP for the South East and Prospective Parliamentary
Candidate for Brighton Pavilion, said
"A Green vote is a vote for local communities, public services,
healthy lives, environmental sustainability, peace and democracy -
and, of course, a vote for seriously tough action on climate change.
"People should be proud to demonstrate their Green credentials where
it matters - at the ballot box.
"Norwich is an inspiration to those across the country who want to see
the Green Party moving forward far and fast. I am very happy to be
coming to Norwich to urge voters both in Norwich and across the nation
to seize the opportunity on May 1st, and vote Green for a real and
lasting change."

All are welcome to come and support at this event!
The itinerary of Dr. Lucas MEP on April 3rd is as follows:

Colchester: 10.30/11.00
Ipswich: 13.40
Stowmarket: 14.30
Norwich: 17.00

Wednesday, 19 March 2008

My friends, the London Mayoral candidates...

The race for London Mayor is hotting up. It is closely-contested by Labour’s Ken Livingstone and the Conservative’s Boris Johnson. However, and thank goodness: the election system used for Mayor of London means that voters can pick whoever they want as their first preference and then transfer their vote ‘tactically’ using their second preference vote. The Lib Dems are polling poorly, and are likely to drop below their score of 2004. Green Party candidate, Sian Berry, is charismatic and dynamic, and it may well be that it is the Green Party that profits this time from this ‘alternative vote’ system. In short: Sian Berry is increasingly likely to get the highest-votes ever received by Mayoral candidates for the Green Party in a mayoral race.

I'm in the probably-unusual situation of being friends with both Boris and Sian. Boris and I went to College together at Oxford and studied Philosophy together. Back then, in fact, we were political allies! Although we have totally diverged politically since then, we have stayed in touch. We saw each other last last summer, at Henley Regatta, on the Thames.

I have known the Green Party candidate for London Mayor, Sian Berry, for several years now; she has visited my home and helped me and others to get elected to the Council in Norwich, and I have often visited with her in Camden and worked with her on her campaigns in favour of Green energy and against urban 4x4s.

Sian would make a brilliant Mayor [ ], and it would be fantastic to see Green policies transforming our capital city. In terms of who would get my second preference vote; I’m not sure- but I’m afraid it definitely wouldn’t be Boris. He is an affable guy, and smarter than he looks; but the Mayor of London has to be someone who can actually run the country’s capital city. I don’t think that that would be Boris’s forte. Hosting “Have I got news for you” and running London are not really comparable enterprises….

It's interesting to see that Sian and Ken are now cross-endorsing each other:

I think that that probably makes sense. I bet there will be lots of 'Sian 1 Ken 2' votes, this time. Loads of people should vote Green, this time, and at the very least make sure that we get our big fat deposit back. But IF it comes down to Ken vs. Boris on second preferences, then surely Ken has done enough good as London Mayor to deserve a third term.

Could you help Norwich make history, this year?

Norwich Green Party: Help needed on polling day.
Last year, Norwich Green Party missed gaining an extra seat -- which would have made us the official opposition on the Council -- by one single vote...
We do not intend to repeat the same mistake, this year...
We need help throughout the campaign. But: If you can only choose one day upon which to help us, then please choose Polling Day. Apart from many other jobs we are aiming to staff lots and lots of polling stations with 'tellers' (smiling people with Green rosettes sitting outside polling stations) between 7am and 10pm. (15 hours). That makes about 600 person-hours just for that one vital job - a job which anybody (with a smile) can do!
If you or someone you know -- forward this message to them? -- could give us just a few hours, or even better, the whole day on May 1st, we will get nearer our target. It is a fact that with just a few extra person-hours last year we would have gained that extra vote!  Just ONE vote!
  Get back to me, if you'd like to, on this.
Or, better still:
To give offers of help and/or donations please go to
or call Tom Dylan at Green Party base on 01603 611909

Help save precious Norfolk woodland

Rupert's Readers!
Please help defeat dodgy plans by the Forestry Commission to trash a large area of lovely Norfolk woodland so as to extract gravel... Here is how you can help! It only takes a few minutes:
[AND: Please pass this on / post /link to on your own blog!]

Tuesday, 18 March 2008

Nationalise the banks?

 Excellent post here from feisty green economist Molly Scott Cato.
It is indeed obscene that some of the very institutions that got us into this appalling mess are now stacking up fat profits on the resultant panic. And we are paying the cost, and being 'gifted' a series of state mortgages...
It's time, it seems to me, to start talking about nationalising the banks... As they were doing on no less an august national institution than the TODAY programme, this morning! ;-)

Monday, 17 March 2008

This blog's claims become public knowledge: The government has systematically misled us, over the level of Britain's GHG emissions

...John Vidal on the front page of today's _Guardian_, in a welcome story setting out what this blog revealed already in a series of posts over the last several months, most recently:

I repeatedly tried to put Ministers on the spot over this, during the last civic year; none ever responded to any of my messages/letters. Normally, one gets at least a form response to emails and letters to Ministers; often, one gets an informative response. I never got a single response of any kind to this line of questioning. The reason why, I believe, is implicit in today's _Guardian_ front page story: there IS no response. Our government has been caught with its pants down on this one. Spin = Lies; and meanwhile the atmosphere keeps on over-heating...

The government ought to be really roasted (sic.) on this one...

Financial crisis threatens to engulf us all -- a Green response

 No doubt, readers, you are aware of the latest calamitous news from the world of finance this morning:
 The money markets need to be re-regulated. Fast, and deeply. Unsustainable levels of debt are an economic and ecological disaster in the making, as I argue here:
 Greens are at the leading edge of what will be a growing movement, in this truly disastrous period in the world finance markets and economy, to stop the rot in a way that does not merely create a further bubble. Because that is what the Fed's actions yesterday - in reducing interest rates further and creating yet more liquidity - risk doing. If they see off this crisis -- I don't believe they will, but IF they do -- they will do so merely by sowing the seeds of a greater crisis in coming years, by blowing debt and investment bubbles yet bigger.
  The main Parties are timid on this issue. They are afraid to challenge big money. And they have no real solutions to offer. We Greens do.
And this issue is just going to grow and grow over the next several weeks...

Sunday, 16 March 2008

Norwich Greens Campaign Video

Friday, 14 March 2008

HGVs in Newmarket Road bus lane?

I am a member of the Joint Highways Agency Committee of Norwich City
Council. Yesterday morning, it was announced at the Committee meeting that
the implementation of the scheme allowing 'freight consolidation vehicles'
to use the bus-and-bike lane on Newmarket Road will be delayed from March
until May, to allow time to consider the very strong
objections that have been raised against the scheme by cyclists, residents,
the Green Party, the LibDems, and others.
I was delighted, because the Council's consultation on this issue has been
abysmal; this
delay will provide a real opportunity for everyone to make their views
known on it. I urge readers of this blog with strong views on the issue or
experience of cycling on this road to get in touch with the Transport
Officers at County Hall, over the next few weeks.
We in Norwich Green Party believe that there are other better
alternatives available than mixing cyclists and HGVs in narrow bus
lanes. Why not, for instance, incentivise use of the freight
consolidation centre by means of simply banning HGVs which are not
freight consolidation vehicles from using Newmarket Road and other such
roads at peak hours? That would provide a much more significant incentive
freight consolidation than would this proposed (ab-)use of the bus-and-bike

Green Action Saturdays!

The Eastern Green Party’s Action Saturdays continue to be a success in providing an opportunity to exchange campaigning techniques as well as delivering important support where it is needed around the region. In the run up to the local elections this extra support will be crucial to reaching our goals on May 1st.

Action Saturdays consist of a full day of campaign activity, including canvassing and leafleting. It is also a great chance to find out first hand what different local parties are doing, discuss strategies and become inspired from each others progress.

Accommodation for overnight stay is usually available, and local parties often put on a social event in the evening to celebrate a good day’s campaigning.

Click here for details of the first event on Saturday March 29th, and here for details of the following four events! Hope to see you there!

Fantasy of eternal growth can no longer be sustained

Low interest rates and easy money in the States and in Britain, and almost everywhere else, led to a crisis in the ’sub-prime’ mortgage market and then a credit crunch, which has brought on fears of a recession in the States and in Britain, and almost everywhere else. After a series of interest rate cuts, the latest response of central Banks including the B of E and the Fed has been $200bn of more easy money released by the latter and aggressive open market operations by the former directed towards the same end, along with co-ordinated actions to ease credit by all the other major central banks around the world.

But let’s get the next part of the story straight - what will happen over the next several months/years, unless the current policy direction in these central banking institutions changes. Eased credit in the States and Britain leads to a further bubble in the ’sub-prime’ mortgage market and in other such dodgy financial markets (and probably also a sudden surge of inflation), which in due course will lead to a still worse crisis, and thus quite probably to a full-blown depression. The US and UK nowadays are debt-ridden - debt-sodden, debt-addicted - countries, mortgaged to the hilt. The Fed and the B of E have just redoubled that truth.

Britain could draw a line in the sand here. Britain could do what needs to be done: we could initiate a strict re-regulation of the financial markets. How so? Because the City of London is now in many respects the centre of the financial world. If our kingdom indicated a firm intention to re-regulate big money, it would start to happen, and could build momentum around the world.

However, it won’t be easy. One reason why is of course the sheer depth of our addiction to debt. Another reason is that our neo-liberalised political system is ill-suited to taking such firm politically-led action on the world of finance. Gordon Brown may yet come to rue the day that he set the Bank of England ‘free’ to set its own interest rates etc. The current crisis is exactly the kind of moment when a government needs to have the levers of financial power in its hands, if it is going to get serious about stopping the debt-addiction that is poisoning the world economy, and that will bring down much more than just Northern Rock if it is allowed to continue.

In order to achieve financial sanity, we may have to reform our political economy in ways that run exactly contrary to the free-market orthodoxy that all the ‘main’ parties in this country now mainline on. A retrenched financial system may require a political system that takes back very significant freedoms that for the last 22 years or so (since ‘the big bang’) have been accorded to the City and that for the last 11 years have been accorded to the Bank of England.

But this needs to be done. We are living beyond our means. It is time to get real. It is time for some thrift. It is time to stop believing that economies can keep growing, and debt keep rising, without a reckoning. It is time to admit that the days of easy money are - ought to be - over, and to retrench. Through what they have just done, the Federal Reserve and the Bank of England have simply blown a new, bigger bubble that will really bring the whole house of cards tumbling down further down the line. These fantasists (see Larry Elliot’s powerful analysis thereof and his prescriptions to solve the problem, from which I partly draw here) who believe that they can con themselves and everyone else into eternal debt and eternal growth will pay a terrible price.

Wednesday, 12 March 2008

The budget -- very Brown, not very Green...

from Eastern Region Green Party and Norfolk Green Party
Wednesday 12th March 2008
The Budget: Very Brown, not very Green...
Whilst being trailed as a Green Budget, Alistair Darling's speech revealed it to be predictably a very Brown one with the barest tinges of Green around the edges.
Before the Budget, the Green Party called for a genuinely Green approach as the urgency of tackling dangerous climate change becomes ever more acute. According to the recommendations of the Stern report - an economic assessment on climate change produced for the Treasury - Gordon Brown should be ensuring that the UK invests at an absolute bare minimum at least 1% of GDP per annum on reducing carbon emissions - but that's not happening and the Labour Government shows no sign of grasping this issue. A truly Green Budget would have delivered a major investment programme for renewable energy, reductions in energy demand through efficiency and the scrapping of airport and motorway expansion plans.
In his speech, Alistair Darling claimed yet again that the UK is a world leader in tackling climate change yet failed to reveal that under Labour, carbon dioxide emissions have not fallen since they came to power in 1997.
Cllr. Dr Rupert Read, Green Party Lead candidate for the 2009 European Elections said
"Gordon Brown's first budget as Prime Minister was an historic opportunity for Labour to have actually put its green rhetoric into action. But predictably, apart from a few Green tinges around the edges, Brown and Darling have not taken the opportunity. This was clearly still a very Brown Budget, not a Green one.
Whilst rightly saying how important it is to tackle manmade climate change, Labour remain utterly contradictory. They want an 80% target for reducing greenhouse gas emissions and plan to have a future Carbon Budget - which are steps in the right direction and are long standing Green Party measures. But targets and budgets are not worth the paper they are written on unless they result in real action. In the same speech today the Chancellor openly backed more roads, airports and urbanisation and ministers have this week backed more coal-fired power stations. This is hardly 'joined-up government'...
The Chancellor cannot seriously claim to be acting on dangerous climate change when he boasts today of "increasing capacity on the roads ... delivering a fifth terminal at Heathrow ... and more runways at Heathrow and Stansted."
The Chancellor said he wanted to see "substantial reductions in emissions from transport". We welcome the changes to vehicle duty to reward owners of the most efficient cars and tax much more heavily the gas guzzlers. This will raise crucial funds that can be invested in the railways. But true to form, the Chancellor has also announced a postponement of the rise in fuel duty. The government's timidity in not increasing fuel duty is a disgrace. ...Although actually, there is much better policy instrument that they coulduse. If the Green Party were in power, we would_reduce_ fuel duty --
because we would introduce carbon rationing, instead. The great thing about carbon rationing is that it is actually fair. Everyone has their
own ration, for free -- by contrast, fuel tax and other carbon taxes are regressive.
We also welcome the rise in aviation tax; let us remember that it is mostly the rich and business travellers who benefit from 'cheap' flights, and it is they who will mostly pay this tax.
But: any reductions in emissions from these measures will be blown away by the huge expansion of motorways, airports and urban sprawl being so aggressively backed by Labour.
Finally, we heard about postponed measures on carrier bags and energy efficiency in buildings. These proposals are totally inadequate. Urgent action is needed to tackle the problem of manufacturers and retailers churning out vast quantities of non-recyclable plastic bags and packaging that end up either in landfill or being incinerated. And on building efficiency, its more of Labour's favourite trick of jam tomorrow. Their zero carbon proposals on housing and non-domestic buildings are all postponed well into the next decade. Local planning authorities need the powers now to require low and zero carbon developments, but the Government has consistently refused to do this."
Eastern Region Green Party Press Office 01376 584576 mobile 07951 923073
Euro 2009 Lead Candidate Cllr. Dr. Rupert Read 01603 219294 mobile 07946 459066
For more Green News 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':  See also [for my regular op-ed journalism] I TWITTER. DO YOU? Check out my new frequently-updated, mobile-phone-based MICRO-BLOG, at 
This is from Medialens - please read, the topic is vital and the data is chilling!


The horrific shooting of eight young people at a Jewish seminary in Jerusalem last Thursday was followed by saturation media coverage. International statesmen lined up with condemnations of the attack and condolences for the victims and their families.

Prime Minister Gordon Brown announced: "This is clearly an attempt to strike a blow at the very heart of the peace process.” (Jon Smith, Press Association, 'Brown: massacre "strikes at heart of peace"', March 7, 2008)

Foreign Secretary David Milliband described the slaughter as “an arrow aimed at the heart of the peace process so recently revived.” (Donald Macintyre and Eric Silver, 'Massacre in the heart of Jerusalem', The Independent, March 7, 2008)

The Guardian’s front page declared: "the descent into violence in the Middle East accelerated last night" in a "dramatic escalation". (Rory McCarthy, ‘Eight dead as gunman hits Jerusalem religious school’, The Guardian, March 7, 2008). A Daily Mirror headline read: ‘Kids Murdered In The Library’ (Allison Martin, March 7, 2008). The Telegraph asserted that the attack “is likely to be remembered as the moment the Middle East peace process died.” (Tim Butcher, ‘Hopes of peace in the Middle East are blown away in a hail of bullets’, Daily Telegraph, March 7, 2008)

The contrast to reactions to the killing of over 120 Palestinians, including many women and children, in occupied Gaza the previous week could hardly be more striking. On one day alone, 60 people died in a hail of Israeli firepower using F-16 planes, Apache helicopter gunships, tanks, armoured bulldozers and ground troops.

No Western leader was heard condemning the Israeli assault on Gaza as “an attempt to strike a blow at the very heart of the peace process.” To our knowledge, no reporter suggested that “the peace process” had now “died”. No headlines screamed of Palestinian babies “murdered” in their beds. In short, news reports from the Gazan bloodbath typically lacked the anguished details and tone that suffused the reporting from Jerusalem less than a week later.

Nor was there the same heightened pitch and intensity of news coverage following Israel’s deadly ‘incursion’ into Gaza in mid-January. 17 Palestinians were killed in one day, and around 50 injured, while President Bush was visiting the region. Mahmoud Abbas, the Palestinian president, said:

"What happened today is a massacre, a slaughter against the Palestinian people.

"Our people cannot keep silent over these massacres. These massacres cannot bring peace." (Al-Jazeera, ‘Abbas: Israeli raid “a massacre” ’, January 15, 2008; exeres/0787158A-D180-44F4-9327- 7BE8DBBB197D.htm)

But for the Western media the massacres that really matter, the ones which “strike a blow at the very heart of the peace process”, are those inflicted on Israelis.

The BBC’s Propaganda Role

The humanitarian crisis in Gaza is now at its worst since the occupation by Israel began in 1967. More Gazans are dependent on food aid than ever before: fully 1.1 million out of a population of 1.5 million. Hospitals are suffering the longest power cuts yet experienced, record levels of raw sewage are being pumped into the sea, and the economy is at its most dire with unemployment set to exceed 50 per cent. (‘The Gaza Strip: A Humanitarian Implosion’, March 6, 2008; Is it any wonder that the people of Gaza are in despair?

Our alert of March 3 highlighted the lack of attention given to the latest assessment by John Dugard, the UN Special Rapporteur on the Occupied Territories. Palestinian terrorism, while abhorrent, is the “inevitable consequence” of Israeli occupation, noted Dugard. He warned: “the collective punishment of Gaza by Israel is expressly prohibited by international humanitarian law.” (Media Lens media alert, ‘Israel’s Illegal Assault On The Gaza “Prison”’)

The BBC’s official response to our challenge about its neglect of Dugard’s vital analysis was telling:

“We missed the original publication of John Dugard's report, but are intending to write about its formal presentation to the UN later today.

“Mr Dugard has, of course, repeatedly made very critical comments about Israel, some of which we have reported:

“It is fair to point out however that Mr Dugard's views are not those of the UN. Under international law, an occupied community is not allowed to adopt terrorist methods against the civilian population of its occupier. Occupied people remain under an obligation to conduct themselves according to the laws of war. So, while terrorism may be an ‘inevitable consequence’ of the occupation, that does not mean it is somehow legitimate. The UN, including the secretary general and the security council, have repeatedly condemned suicide bombings and rocket fire from Gaza: /middle_east/7273444.stm " (Email from “The BBC News website” [no name provided], March 6, 2008)

This response is noteworthy, even for the BBC's usual shameful record. There was no mention of Israel’s responsibilities as the occupying power, or its repeated and brutal transgressions of international and humanitarian law over forty years. Human rights groups, such as Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch and B’Tselem in Israel, have documented many grave breaches of the Fourth Geneva Convention, constituting war crimes. Little of this fundamental context ever makes it into BBC news reports.

Instead, the BBC focused exclusively in its reply on the obligations of “an occupied community” which has been continually attacked and impoverished by an Israeli state that is massively supported – financially, militarily, diplomatically - by Washington. The anonymous BBC official who wrote that “while terrorism may be an ‘inevitable consequence’ of the occupation, that does not mean it is somehow legitimate” was answering a strawman argument of his or her own invention. Neither Media Lens nor the UN Special Rapporteur claimed that Palestinian terrorism was “legitimate.” Indeed, had the BBC employee read the report, he/she would have seen that Dugard had condemned Palestinian rocket attacks on Israel’s civilians as “war crimes”.

As promised, the BBC news website did indeed write about the Dugard report; it devoted all of 168 words at the bottom of a short news item. The item noted blandly that unspecified “scheduling problems” meant that the report would now be presented to the UN in June rather than this month. (BBC Online, ‘UN alarm at Gaza-Israel violence’, March 6, 2008; middle_east/7281711.stm). For the Special Rapporteur’s assessment to be shunted to one side by the ‘international community’, even as the slaughter in the Middle East continued, was horribly ironic. The possibility that power politics might have been at play in the alleged “scheduling problems” appears to have eluded the media’s scrutiny.

The Eternal BBC Claim: “We Will Not Be Cheerleaders For Anybody”

Jeremy Bowen, the BBC’s Middle East news editor, received numerous emails that were copied to us. Many were in direct response to our alert, but others were sent spontaneously by people appalled at the coverage they were seeing and hearing from the publicly-funded broadcaster. After the killings at the Jewish seminary, Bowen defended the corporation’s recent unbalanced news coverage from the region:

“In the last week, we have reported very fully from inside Gaza as well as from Sderot and Ashkelon. We will continue to report on the Palestinians in Gaza, the West Bank and East Jerusalem. But we will also report fully from the Israeli side. The BBC's reporting will be as impartial as we can make it. We will not be cheerleaders for anybody.” (Email, March 6, 2008)

Bowen’s assertion simply does not stand up to scrutiny. In our March 3 alert, we cited the testimony of former BBC Middle East correspondent Tim Llewellyn who pointed out that ‘balance’ is “the BBC's crudely applied device for avoiding trouble”. This inevitably leads to a clear news bias towards the viewpoint of power residing in Israel, Washington and London.

The public can see for themselves the ‘neutral’ media language used to describe Israeli actions: ‘incursion’, ‘retaliation’, ‘military operations’. By contrast, Israel endures ‘terrorist attacks’, ‘slaughter’, ‘a bloodbath’. Careful analysis by Greg Philo and Mike Berry, of the Glasgow University Media Group, found a persistent, ugly pattern:

“In our samples of news content, words such as ‘mass murder’, ‘savage cold-blooded killing’ and ‘lynching’ were used by journalists to describe Israeli deaths but not those of Palestinians/Arabs. The word ‘terrorist’ was used to describe Palestinians, but when an Israeli group was reported as trying to bomb a Palestinian school, they were referred to as ‘extremists’ or ‘vigilantes’.” (Philo and Berry, ‘Bad News From Israel’, Pluto Press, London, 2004, p. 259)

The reality is that by devoting disproportionate coverage to Israeli deaths over Palestinian deaths, the BBC’s claims to “impartial” reporting are simply demolished. With great consistency, lives in the ‘Third World’ are presented as being of far less importance than those who are ‘like us’. At its most brutal, we see a deeply racist attitude that also underpins the culture of killing in the U.S. occupation of Iraq. Major General Bargewell's report into the massacre of 24 Iraqi civilians in Haditha by U.S. marines gave a glimpse of the prevailing mindset:

“Iraqi civilian lives are not as important as US lives, their deaths are just the cost of doing business...” (Josh White, ‘Report On Haditha Condemns Marines; Signs of Misconduct Were Ignored, U.S. General Says,’ Washington Post, April 21, 2007)

And while the BBC and other news media continue to pump out propaganda about the Middle East, the “cost of doing business” is only too obvious to the victims and anyone who cares about them.


The goal of Media Lens is to promote rationality, compassion and respect for others. If you do write to journalists, we strongly urge you to maintain a polite, non-aggressive and non-abusive tone.

Write to: Jeremy Bowen, BBC’s Middle East news editor

Write to Helen Boaden, BBC news director

Please send a copy of your emails to us

Please do NOT reply to the email address from which this media alert originated. Please instead email us:

This media alert is archived here:

The Media Lens book ‘Guardians of Power: The Myth Of The Liberal Media’ by David Edwards and David Cromwell (Pluto Books, London) was published in 2006. John Pilger described it as: “The most important book about journalism I can remember.” For further details, including reviews, interviews and extracts, please click here:

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Tuesday, 11 March 2008


No to a monstrous Stansted

NEWS from Eastern Region Green Party


Tuesday 11th March 2008


BAA Plans to make Stansted bigger than Heathrow:

Green Party vows to fight "lunatic" proposals every inch of the way 


The BAA has today announced its planning proposals to turn Stansted into a massive airport larger than Heathrow is today, by building a second runway and expanding across the fields of Essex. Such a proposal was specifically ruled out by the planning inspector and the Government in the 1980s when Stansted waas orginally given consent to expand following a public inquiry.


The proposals would result in catastrophic damage to the countryside of Essex and are being fiercely opposed . People's homes would be bulldozed. There would be a huge increase in jet flights which would raise noise levels over Essex and nearby counties to unprecedented levels, causing annoyance, sleep disturbance and harm to children's education. Road traffic levels would soar, making today's jams in Essex seem minor. A second runway and all the extra buildings that would go with it would be followed by a forest of planning applications for housing developments, business parks, warehouses, hotels, etc. Light pollution from the airport, already bad, would become severe. And on top of all that, the emissions of carbon dioxide, nitrogen oxides, ground level ozone and other gases from the airport and its activities would multiply, polluting the air and adding to climate change. The BAA's expansion of Stansted would be so large that it would at a stroke cancel out all the efforts of Essex residents, local authorities and businesses to tackle climate change.


Cllr. Dr. Rupert Read, Green Party Lead Candidate for the 2009 European Elections said


"People living around Heathrow know all too well what the BAA has in store for East Anglia. Under the Heathrow flightpaths, quality of life is severely harmed. It is hard to get proper sleep and there is no escape from the constant presence of the airport. It is utterly irresponsible for the BAA to now plan the same for this region. Stansted cannot be allowed to become a second Heathrow. People have already voiced their clear opposition to plans to expand the airport on one runway - that opposition will now get even stronger.


Uttlesford District Council took the ground-breaking stance of rejecting expansion on one runway, partly because of the climate-dangerous impact that more flights would have. They were right to do so. If I am elected Euro-MP for Eastern Region next year, I pledge to take all necessary steps to ensure that Stansted does not blight our skies and our quality of life with any further expansion; and, in the meantime, I pledge to oppose with resolve the efforts by BAA to try to over-ride the wishes of the people who live in the area. We do NOT want a bigger, noisier, more destructive Stansted."


Cllr. James Abbott, Braintree District Councillor and long-standing opponent of Stansted expansion added


"The BAA's plans are nothing less than lunatic. For the sake of cramming more people onto ever more cheap flights, the BAA seem happy to be causing so much alarm and to be threatening so much damage to Essex and nearby counties. These are the plans of those driven by corporate greed and blind ignorance to what they are inflicting on communities and the environment.


The battle over the second runway at Stansted, and the third at Heathrow will be crucial to not just the future of the areas most directly affected, but the future direction of policy in the UK and internationally. Right now, it is often the poorest people suffering the impacts of climate change in Bangladesh, island communities in the Pacific, Africa and elsewhere. Scientists could not have made it clearer what the consequences will be if we do not cut greenhouse gas emissions. This will be a battle between the BAA and their friends in Westminster and ordinary people and communities, both in the UK and across the world. "    


Monday, 10 March 2008

The Budget: Green or Brown ?

 Monday 10th March 2008 
With the Budget to be delivered in parliament by the Chancellor on Wednesday March 12th, the Green Party is calling for a genuinely Green approach, not a Brown one. According to the recommendations of the Stern report - an economic assessment on climate change produced for the Treasury - Gordon Brown should be ensuring that the UK invests 1% of GDP per annum on reducing carbon emissions - but its not happening.
Whilst the Labour Government under Gordon Brown has continued to make the right noises about tackling climate change the reality of its actions is very different. 2008 is set to be a crunch year for the UK on the issue of climate change. Government decisions are expected on a third runway at Heathrow, expansion of Stansted airport, urban growth proposals and major road schemes, many of which could impact on Eastern Region. If the go-ahead for these is rubber stamped by the Government, UK carbon dioxide emissions will continue to rise, more homes will be at flood risk and the quality of life of millions of people will be hit by increased traffic, air pollution and noise.
Transport is becoming a key political issue. Whilst there is clear demand for better public transport, fares remain far too high and overcrowding on key routes is becoming unbearable for thousands of people. The Green Party is calling for major road schemes designed to get even more cars and lorries on to the roads to be scrapped and for the money to be invested in public transport.
Whilst Labour claims it has improved local services, the reality for many is one of community hospitals closing, threats to village schools, loss of their local post offices and pubs and inadequate services in dentistry, mental health and many other sectors. And whilst big business enjoys ever more generous tax breaks and generates massive profits, many small businesses struggle due to regulation and taxation bearing down proportionately more heavily on them. Small businesses employ around half the workforce of the UK and the sector is growing - with around 5 million small businesses now registered. 
Cllr. Dr Rupert Read, Green Party Lead candidate for the 2009 European Elections said
"On March 12th the Government has an opportunity to introduce a truly Green budget, as we would do if in power. Its high time Brown and Darling stopped pretending they are tackling the major issues that people care about and actually started work on them.
The expansion of Heathrow and Stansted should be scrapped, along with proposals to build and widen more motorways and trunk roads. Investment should instead be directed into a rapid improvement in public transport networks and safety on the roads, to give people good quality and sustainable choices about how they travel.
The damage being done to local public services must stop. The budget should include provision for much greater local autonomy on public services and financial support to ensure that vital services such as post offices, community hospitals and village schools do not decline further. Specific health services such as dentistry and mental health need urgent support to halt the decline in service delivery to people.
Investment in these areas would give a boost to people's quality of life and help reduce the incidence of long term illness.
Finally, if this is to be a genuinely Green budget, we hope the Chancellor can at last address the inequities in the taxation regime for the environment, sustainable building and small businesses. Taxes on pollution must increase, whilst taxes on sustainable activities are reduced. There is a clear justification for increasing taxes on aviation and a similar justification for cutting taxes on eco-friendly transport. There is an urgent need to help bring back into use the hundreds of thousands of empty and run down  properties in the UK via changes to the tax system. Volume developers are currently financially encouraged to build on greenfield sites, often in flood risk areas. The Government should do much more to encourage locally based firms to improve existing housing and use appropriate brownfield sites which are often in more sustainable locations."
Eastern Region Green Party Press Office 01376 584576 mobile 07951 923073
Euro 2009 Lead Candidate Cllr. Dr. Rupert Read 01603 219294 mobile 07946 459066
For more Green News please visit

Call for enquiry into MoD Wind Farm policy: Open Letter to Malcolm Wicks and Des Browne

Subject: Open Letter to Ministers Malcolm Wicks and Des Browne : Call for enquiry into MoD Wind Farm policy

March 2008

From: Councillor Andrew Boswell (Norfolk County Council) and Councillor Rupert Read (Norwich City Council)


Dear Mr Wicks and Mr Browne,


We are writing following the Ministry of Defence's announcement on March 5th that it had withdrawn its opposition to three wind turbines at Hethel in South Norfolk (Eastern Daily Press, March 6th). 


We welcome the news that this objection has been dropped and hope that this is a positive signal for renewable energy development in East Anglia.  This industry is crucial to our region and also in fight against dangerous climate change. 


However, just a few weeks ago, the MoD told planning officers at South Norfolk District Council that they could not even guarantee that replacing the RAF Trimingham radar with the latest technology in 2009 would solve the problem.  Because of the lack of certainty, even after 2009, South Norfolk Council planning officers recommended refusal at the planning meeting late last year rather than a Grampian planning consent that would have allowed development to procede as soon as the MoD withdrew its objection.  We believe that this unfortunate recommendation then 'opened the door' for further delay to this project: because of a vocal (though minority) anti-wind energy campaign locally, the application was subsequently refused on additional grounds that were not made in the planning officer's recommendations.  We believe that this outcome would have been unlikely if the recommendations had been for a Grampian consent in the first place.  If the MoD had carried out the same detailed analysis in the first place, that has now apparently been done as a 'detailed re-appraisal' following the planning refusal, then much time and money could have been saved.   


This indecision and change of mind has been a particularly unnecessary fiasco for the company and to the nation in delaying meeting our renewable energy targets.  We believe that it needs investigation given that it has been Government policy for several years that wind energy and national defence radars should be able to interoperate. In July 2005, Mr Wicks, you announced yourself that there was 'a well established collaborative programme of work aimed at enabling wind energy and aviation activities to co-exist in safety'. 


We believe that the company and the public deserve an explanation from the Government for the sudden change of mind and the industry needs guarantees that this won't happen again.  


We are, therefore, calling on you as the ministers responsible for Energy and Defence departments to launch an enquiry into the MoD advice given on the Hethel application and to ensure that these problems won't happen elsewhere.  We request that one outcome needs to be a clear statement of the status of all the wind applications both those to which MoD have previously objected and also on vital new projects such as the large offshore farm being planned ten miles out to sea from Sheringham, North Norfolk. 


We hope that you take our concerns seriously and we look forward to your response. 


Yours faithfully,


Councillor Andrew Boswell (Norfolk County Council) and Councillor Rupert Read (Norwich City Council),

23, Havelock Road,


NR2 3HQ.








Friday, 7 March 2008

Tory climate-change-deniers have their day in Parliament

This makes chilling reading. Vote Blue go Dead?
This is the true face of the 'Conservative' Party...:

5 Mar 2008 : Column 449WH

Climate Change
2.30 pm
Mr. Andrew Tyrie (Chichester) (Con): When I was at school, the standard
orthodoxy in geography lessons was that we were on the threshold of a
new ice age. Another orthodoxy was that the world faced an era of
unparalleled mass starvation unfolding as a consequence of a Malthusian
population growth trap. Forty years later the science of global cooling
has been replaced by the science of global warming and the Malthusian
crisis has been solved by man's capacity to adapt, using new technology.
In the latter case, high-yielding crops delivered what became known as
the green revolution. We need to be careful about swallowing
orthodoxies. I have initiated the debate to make one straightforward
point about the latest orthodoxy. I support the view that mankind might
be contributing to global warming, but there is little evidence to
support the view that the correct response at this time should be
rapidly to decarbonise the economies of the world.

Mr. Mark Field (Cities of London and Westminster) (Con): I was at school
slightly more recently than my hon. Friend-probably about 30 years ago.
One other orthodoxy to which he has not referred, and which has since
been disproved, was the idea that we were going to run out of oil and
gas by the end of the century. That was the theory of well-paid
Government scientists who had research grants in the late 1970s. The
same people, or perhaps their successors, are now coming up with the
theories that I hope that my hon. Friend will do his best to explode.

Mr. Tyrie: That was an interesting intervention. The idea of a peak oil
moment in the resources industry is an old chestnut that has been around
for at least 50 years. Anybody minded to give the idea houseroom could
do no better than read the outstanding paper that was written only a few
months ago by Professor Peter Davies of BP in which that theory is
decisively scotched-of course, it is complete nonsense.

On current knowledge, acting swiftly to reduce carbon emissions across
the world could be as economically imprudent as it would certainly be
morally reprehensible.

Philip Davies (Shipley) (Con): As my hon. Friend knows, I share many of
his views. Does he agree that it would be a mistake to act too swiftly
when, according to the Met Office Hadley Centre, last year there was a
12-month long drop in world temperature sufficient to wipe out a whole
century of warming? In addition, China, which is supposed to be spewing
out more carbon emissions than ever before, has had its coldest winter
in 100 years.

Mr. Tyrie: There are a lot of measurement problems with global warming.
There has not been any global warming for the past eight years, although
that is not well known, and whether there was a rate of faster growth in
the temperature of the planet in the 1930s or in the 1990s is hotly
disputed-if I may use that phrase. There are also some interesting
disputes about whether the last century or the mediaeval warm period was
the warmest in the last millennium.

5 Mar 2008 : Column 450WH

Mr. Andrew Smith (Oxford, East) (Lab): I am pleased that the hon.
Gentleman has secured this debate, and I am glad to be able to squeeze
in between the interventions of his hon. Friends. Does he accept that if
the downside risks of not acting are greater than the downside risks of
acting, given the scientific knowledge that we have-even with the
qualifications that are put on that scientific understanding-it is
imperative for us to act?

Mr. Tyrie: That is the nub of the matter. I shall discuss that in a
moment as it is why I have initiated this debate.

To finish off my comments on the intervention made by my hon. Friend the
Member for Shipley (Philip Davies), the summary of the
Harvard-Smithsonian centre for astrophysics' study on proxy climatic and
environmental changes in the past 1,000 years states:

"across the world, many records reveal that the 20 th century is
probably not the warmest, nor a uniquely extreme climatic period of the
last millennium."

There are, of course, equally well-qualified people who dispute that
vigorously, so a fierce debate is going on about this.

The Government are advocating a policy of almost completely
decarbonising our economy over the next 40 years. That will mean drastic
reductions in the use of fossil fuels on the roads, for heating our
homes and in industry. Such a policy will cost a fortune and will
represent a massive undertaking. It will also almost certainly mean a
fundamental change in our way of life and will leave us less well off.
We are embarking on such a policy without having properly thought
through the consequences, or the alternatives.

Mr. Greg Knight (East Yorkshire) (Con): Has my hon. Friend read the
recent report by Professor David Newbury of Cambridge university, which
concludes that if motorists were required to pay the true cost of the
effect of motoring on the environment, they would pay fuel tax at 20p a
litre? Our fuel tax levels are nearly 60p a litre, so whatever side of
the argument one is on, there is not a case for further increasing tax
on the motorist.

Mr. Tyrie: I need to think carefully about that point. At first blush, I
am not convinced of the argument, so rather than dwell on that now, I
shall move on.

Six conditions need to be met to justify the Government's proposed
action on carbon emissions over the next 40 years. The first is to
establish whether the planet is actually warmer, which was what we were
just discussing. Establishing that involves considerable measurement
problems, but it is clear that the planet has warmed. The
Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change's median estimate is 0.6 per
cent. over the past 100 years, with a margin of error of plus or minus
0.2 per cent. Secondly, it needs to be shown that we are causing that

Thirdly, we need to be confident that global warming will continue and
that the so-called feedbacks that will come with any change in the
temperature will not abate the warming. Fourthly, we need to be clear
that by sharply reducing mankind's carbon emissions, we can secure an
arrest or reversal of temperature increases. Fifthly, we need to be sure
that the main carbon
5 Mar 2008 : Column 451WH
producers of the world-the UK contributes about 2 per cent. of total
carbon emissions-will co-operate and implement massive reductions with
us. Sixthly, we need to ensure that the cost of largely decarbonising
all the world's economies is less than the damage that would be caused
by a failure to abate carbon emissions. That was the issue raised by the
right hon. Member for Oxford, East (Mr. Smith).

I intend to consider only the last of those six conditions today,
although it is important to bear in mind that they all need to be
fulfilled before any country embarks on sharp reductions in carbon
emissions. As I have pointed out, several of those conditions might not
be fulfilled and, contrary to popular perception, all six are highly
controversial. There are strong majority views among experts on some of
the issues, but the world of climate science is new and fast-changing
and, contrary to what we are often told, there is certainly no consensus
on many of those matters.

Mr. Mark Field: Like my hon. Friend, I have a sceptical frame of mind.
It is important to consider this matter in such a frame of mind and not
to be blind to certain evidence or science that is important in relation
to climate change. He referred to initial conditions that he will not
discuss at great length now. I want to mention one issue. On a number of
occasions he said that we needed to be sure. Does he not recognise that,
at least in the context of this debate, this is not a matter of being
absolutely certain, but about the balance of probabilities? That perhaps
makes his argument a little less forceful than might otherwise be the

Mr. Tyrie: That is an issue of cost-benefit analysis. Clearly, o ne can
never be absolutely sure when one tries to mitigate a risk, but one has
to apply a probability, and the balance of probabilities-51 per cent.-is
clearly not enough to justify a complete restructuring of our economy.
What percentage should be applied is one of the issues that we need to
examine carefully.

People often invoke the precautionary principle. If that means anything,
it should lead us to be wary of embarking on a policy unless we are
clear that it is right. The risk of making a mistake, prejudicing global
growth and consigning a substantial proportion of the world to continued
poverty, not to mention the risk of hitting hardest the poorest in our
own community-they are the people who pay for this-could be even greater
than the risks of global warming. In other words, the precautionary
principle is double edged. This is only another way of addressing the
sixth condition to which I referred. The key question is how one weighs
the benefits and costs of mitigation policies to remove carbon from the
atmosphere against policies to adapt to warming once it has happened.

By far the lengthiest piece of work on the subject has been produced by
Professor Stern, the former chief economist to the Treasury. He
concludes that the damage caused by unchecked global warming would
substantially outweigh the costs of reducing carbon emissions. The key
question is: is he right?

Rather than going into too much detail, perhaps it would help if I gave
the considered view of some of the world's leading environmental and
welfare economists
5 Mar 2008 : Column 452WH
on the subject. Professor Richard Tol of Carnegie Mellon university, who
is a top environmental economist, said:

"If a student of mine were to hand in this report"-

the Stern report-

"as a Masters thesis, perhaps, if I were in a good mood, I would give
him a 'D' for diligence; but more likely, I would give him an 'F' for

Professor Dr. William Nordhaus of Yale university, arguably the world's
leading environmental economist, has described the policy prescriptions
of the Stern review as "completely absurd". Professor Dasgupta points
out that the implications of Stern's logic are "patently absurd". These
people are queuing up. The list is so long that I do not have time to
read out all the names, but what about a few more from the home team?
There is Professor Wilfred Beckerman, one of Britain's and the world's
leading environmental economists of the past 30 years and a former
economic adviser to earlier Labour Governments. There is Sir Ian Byatt,
the former director general of Ofwat; Professor David Henderson, the
former chief economist of the OECD; Professor Alan Peacock; Lord
Skidelsky-the list is virtually endless. To cut a long story short, they
all say that Nick Stern has got it wrong, that he has overestimated the
damage relating to global warming, and that he has underestimated the
costs of decarbonising the economy.

Perhaps, though, we should not be as harsh on the Stern review as some
of those academic colleagues. For a start, Stern does have some equally
eminent supporters. More importantly, he has done us a service by
setting out a framework for thinking about how to address this hugely
complicated question.

Gregory Barker (Bexhill and Battle) (Con): My hon. Friend is making a
case that he obviously believes quite sincerely. Does he remember that
back in the 1980s, more than 100 eminent economists wrote to The Times,
I believe,to slam the policies of Margaret Thatcher, saying that she was
doomed to failure?

Mr. Tyrie: That is exactly my point. When we see a consensus, we should
be wary of it. That one turned out to be completely wrong. Another from
the list of those that we have had to address in the House in the past
might be appeasement in the 1930s. A better one, which is more closely
related to that cited by my hon. Friend, would be post-war Keynesian
economics as a means of controlling inflation. That idea has now bee n
overturned and rejected by the Labour and Conservative parties, but it
was the prevailing consensus. To challenge that consensus in the
economic community took a great deal of bravery in the 1950s and '60s.
It was down to the bravery of a small number of economists, mainly the
Chicago school-whether we agree with everything that it said is another
matter-that there was a breakthrough to enable us to re-examine it.

Steve Webb (Northavon) (LD): The hon. Gentleman has been very generous
in taking interventions. In principle, there ought to be an objective
scientific issue to be debated. Relatively few of us are expert
scientists, but what puzzles me about this issue is that it tends to
cause alignment on political grounds. I wonder whether
5 Mar 2008 : Column 453WH
he has any thoughts, because he is a thoughtful man, about why it tends
to be people of the right who are sceptical about the science. Is it
that climate change might imply some sort of collective action, which is
anathema to them, so they look for the flaws in the science? That is an
important question. Why does it tend to be the right that does not
believe the science?

Mr. Tyrie: That is quite an interesting question. I have not come to
debate this issue because I have a hidden agenda about attacking a new
form of collectivism that might derive from the science. I have studied
a good deal of the material carefully and come to the conclusion that we
are rushing to take action about which we should be very cautious.

I wanted to defend Nick Stern a little, having had a go at him. This man
stepped up to the plate and at least set the right framework for
analysis, so even if he got the answer completely wrong, as I think that
he probably did with his main conclusions, that should not necessarily
be treated as a blot on his escutcheon. However, he really should stop
digging. He is still trying to defend a position that has been pretty
much discredited.

At the very least, even those who want to support the view in every
particular would have to conclude that Nick Stern's conclusions are
deeply controversial. That point is beyond controversy. Therefore, the
question that we should be asking ourselves is: should the UK, or the
rest of the world for that matter, embark on such a radical
restructuring of our economies on the basis of that controversial

Philip Davies: This is not just a question of Nick Stern. My hon.
Friend will know that Al Gore's film, "An Inconvenient Truth", was ruled
by a judge to contain at least nine inaccuracies, yet the Government
have sent it out to every school in the country. Does my hon.
Friend agree that that is more propaganda than science?

Mr. Tyrie: Absolutely. The Gore report is a scandal. The fact that it
has been distributed to our schools reflects badly on the House. It has
been comprehensively rubbished by a series of top papers produced by the
American Academy of Scientists, so much so that even a judge felt the
need to intervene in the debate. It should be withdrawn from our
schools. There are many mistakes in it. If hon. Members want to
challenge me on that, I will start going through them one by one, but if
I do so, others will not get a chance to speak. I am not quite sure how
many Members have put in to speak. At the moment, I know of only one, so
I do have a bit of time.

At the very least, we all have to agree that the Stern report is deeply
controversial. It should have been the duty of the Treasury and the
Opposition parties to listen to some of the trenchant criticisms, but
both, regrettably, have swallowed the Stern report whole. My party's
Front-Bench spokesmen welcomed the recommendations of the Stern report
before they had even had a chance to read it, and I find that quite

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

Rupert's Read

22. 23. 31. 32.