Friday, 31 July 2009

An invitation to debate: Open letter to Kamm and Finkelstein

[I have just sent this message to Oliver Kamm and Danny Finkelstein, two of those whose writings in the Norwich North byelection campaign in effect required me to pen the posting below entitled: 'Me: a clarification'. Unlike some of the other attacks on me during the campaign, Kamm and Finkelstein had the decency to make theirs on the record, and without selectively quoting bits of sentences I wrote. Nevertheless, I believe them to have seriously distorted my views, and I would welcome the chance to debate with either of them publicly over these matters. I hope that they will have the courage to take up my invitation!]
'Hello. I'm writing today because I've noted your criticisms of me in your blog-columns, during the past month of the Norwich North byelection campaign; now that I finally have some time to draw breath and potentially respond, it occurs to me that the most interesting and satisfactory way in which we could engage over these matters would be a debate, in person, in public. So: would you care to debate with me over the issues you have raised, presumably concentrating on questions around Iraq, Israel, terrorism etc, at some public venue e.g. in Norwich or in London, sometime in early Autumn?
I look forward to your reply.
 Rupert Read.'

Sign up for lighter evenings!

Thursday, 30 July 2009

Pictures from the Norwich North Byelection Campaign

Me: a clarification

During the recent byelection in Norwich North I was subjected to having my
views misrepresented and my character viciously attacked in a number of areas.
These depictions are both baseless and (in a number of cases) libelous.

Lest there be any misunderstanding let me for the record state my position on the areas and issues in question quite

I abhor violence and I abhor racism and discrimination in all its forms.

I condemn any person who commits violence against scientists and others
in the name of animal rights. (I also condemn those who perpetrate vile
experiments against animals for the purposes of testing cosmetics etc.)

I condemn any terrorist attacks on civilians. With regard to the
response of Islamic-fundamentalist militants to Western intervention in
Iraq, I don't believe that we can be surprised if we are subjected to attack by those
who oppose the presence of Western troops, given that our attack
on Iraq was unprovoked and internationally-illegal.
But that is of course not in the least saying that
we _deserve_ to be attacked back. Any government needs take into account the
backlash that may be directed at its citizens as a result of its
military operations. To say this, as I have done, and have been attacked as
an 'extremist' for so doing, is to say nothing more than what our
intelligence services have gone on record as saying (and as many others such
as Tony Benn and Charles Kennedy have also said).

I support the right of Israel to exist in a state of peaceful and mutual
respect with its neighbours.  But I condemn the actions of the Israeli
government while Israeli settlements continue to be founded within the West
Bank in contravention of international law and Israel's military action
in response to militant attacks is more often than not suffered by
civilians and not Palestinian paramilitaries.  Condemning these actions
of the Israeli government is not a condemnation of the Israeli people, still
less of Jewish people. I abhor discrimination of any kind.  I support every
fair minded attempt to usher in a future where both sides can enjoy what
we in Britain take for granted.

Thus as regards the charge of anti-Semitism I find this particularly
vile.  Like all Greens I am wholly aware of the particular suffering of
the Jewish people through hundreds of years of European history and
their being subject to a myriad of lies and prejudices culminating in
the Holocaust. Anti-semitism is as a result an especially vile attitude, and
one which I have absolutely no truck with whatsoever. I reserve my right
to criticise the foreign policy of the state of Israel without being smeared as 'anti-Semitic'.

I am innocent of the 'charges' that have been laid upon me by those seeking
to gain short-term political advantage against the Green Party, and I trust that these
charges will now no longer be repeated in the 'echo-chamber' of the

Report from human rights delegation to Honduras

Report from the International mission for solidarity, accompaniment,
and observation in Honduras [from my trusted friend and philosopher
colleague, Thomas Wallgren]:

An international mission for solidarity, accompaniment, and
observation in Honduras has arrived in Tegucigalpa on Monday 27th
July. (See mission statement with list of members, attached.)

On Monday, July 28th the mission was received by several local human
rights organizations. (See list at the end.) It also witnessed two
demonstrations organized by the supporters of the Zelaya government

On Tuesday, July 29th the delegation took part in a press-conference
organized by the Committee for relatives of disappeared detained
people in Honduras (el Comité de Familiares de Detenidos Desaparecidos
en Honduras COFADEH), announcing the mission and reporting about the
first observations of the mission. (See the press release enclosed –
in Spanish only.)

On the same day the mission accompanied two Hondurian human rights
organization in a a fact-finding mission to the border area of El
Paraiso, next to Nicaragua, with the camp of president Zelaya nearby
on the Nicaraguan side.

"Life in the capital of Tegucigalpa may seem normal to an outside
visitor at first sight," says Tom Kucharz, a Spanish delegate of the
mission. "At night here is however, curfew in the entire country, as
declared by the illegitimate president installed after the coup
d'etat, Roberti Micheletti. Heavy censorship, suspension of the
freedom of movement and gathering and the lack of credibility of the
information provided by the de facto government and authorities
controlled by it contribute to creating a situation of tension and
fear. There are two verified victims of politically related violence
and there is also a greatly heightened rate of murders in the capital
city of Tegucigalpa as reported by police sources and Human Rights
organizations. Rumors about mass detentions and violent oppression

The convoy yesterday was allowed to pass through all way to the
border, contrary to what was the case when CODAFEH attempted two
earlier fact-finding missions since last Friday when the border was
first closed. Between Tegucigalpa and the border, a distance of a
little more than a 100 kilometers, there were 8 check-points, some of
which controlled by civilian police, some by the army and some by both

"We saw hundreds of heavily armed police and soldiers. The whole area
is very heavily militarized. The area between the last civilian
check-point and the border is de facto in a state of emergency
controlled completely by the army," says the Finnish member of the
mission, Thomas Wallgren.

"The situation at the border seems to have changed decisively during
the last days. On Friday 24th, when it was reported that Zelaya was
trying to enter the country, and during the first days after that, we
have several reports according to which crowds of people from various
parts of the country who support Zelaya headed to the border in what
seemed to be a spontaneous political movement with little coordination.

Yesterday, our mission met a group of 38 persons from an indigenous
group that was referred to as "lencas", who were on their way back
from the border area. The group, traveling in a hired truck, had been
stopped by an army check-point in El Paraiso and refused further
passage. They had decided to try to reach Nicaragua by crossing by
foot over the mountains. At the night of the 27th to the 28th they
were, as they reported to us, encircled by armed forces, captured and
given the choice between being detained in El Paraiso and returning
home. Overall, our conclusion is that the army has by now been
successful in its effort to prevent any movement of supporters of
Zelay to the border or in the border area," says Wallgren.

"What we see is a lot of psychological pressure, organized to
demoralize and demobilize the supporters of the legitimate government.
This appears to be a dictatorship with a civilian face" says Nora
Cortiña, the Argentinian leader of the mission.

Yesterday, when the mission stopped at the last civilian check-point
in El Paraiso, it was invited to meet with Xiomara Castro de Zelaya
who camps at the local district office there with her family, and
supporters. The first lady of the country, Xiomara Castro, has been
presented an offer by the military officers in charge there to
continue to the border, but only without her supporters. In a short
personal meeting in her temporary office, Xiomara informed us that she
has firmly rejected the offer. She says she will go only of all
citizens that want to go with her are granted there constitutional
right to travel freely in their own country.

Tegucigalpa, 29th July 2009

Phones in Honduras:
+504 - 898 52 607 / +504 – 964 23 566 / +504 – 965 93
265 / +504 965 91 621

e-mail: Tom Kucharz:,

Organisations that the mission has visited so far include:
El Comité para la Defensa de los Derechos Humanos en Honduras (CODEH)
El Comité de Familiares de Detenidos Desaparecidos en Honduras COFADEH
El Centro de Prevención, Tratamiento y Rehabilitación de las Víctimas de la
Tortura y sus Familiares (CPTRT), FIAN-Internacional,
La Coalición Hondureña de Acción Ciudadana (CHAAC), and
Sindicato de Trabajadores de Bebidas y Similares (STIBYS)

Wednesday, 29 July 2009


Tuesday, 28 July 2009

Letters from me on Norwich North in today's Guardian/Indy

We have had to combat this idea making the rounds in some of the press that
"the Greens were
disappointed" with our Norwich North result. Well, obviously we were
disappointed, in that we'd rather have won, etc; but it was nevertheless
easily our best by-election
result ever:

Your leader (The message from Norwich North, 25 July) confuses the
city of Norwich with the constituency of Norwich North. The Greens are
very strong in Norwich. However, two-thirds of Norwich North was
outside of the city in the Broadlands suburbs, where we have
comparatively little presence. Norwich North was our best national
byelection result ever. It's clear that the byelection was another
boost for ourselves and Ukip, and another bad day for the "big three"
parties in Westminster. Even the Conservatives lost 2,000 votes,
compared to their result in 2005.

Cllr Rupert Read
Norwich Green party


Your leading article "A by-election that obscures as much as it
reveals" (25 July) said that the Green Party doubled its vote in
Norwich North. In fact, we more than tripled our vote share from 2005,
and it was our best national by-election ever. This was despite
two-thirds of Norwich North being outside the city (where we are very
strong, and the opposition group on the council), in the Broadlands
suburbs. What is clear from Norwich North is that the by-election was
a boost for ourselves and UKIP, and another bad result for the "big
three" parties in Westminister.

Councillor Rupert Read
Norwich Green Party

Friday, 24 July 2009

Greens triple vote in Norwich North

9.7% is best ever by-election result for the Green Party

Green party campaigners were today celebrating their performance in the Norwich North by-election after more than tripling their vote, compared with the 2005 general election.

The result was by far the best performance ever for the Green Party in a Westminster by-election.

The Green Party received 9.7% of the vote, up from 1,252 in 2005 to 3,350 today.

In comparison to 2005, the votes of Conservative, Labour and LibDem parties all went down. The Labour and LibDem vote also fell as a proportion of the turnout.

Adrian Ramsay, opposition leader on Norwich council, and the Green Party's deputy leader, said: "This was our best by-election result ever. Our best previous result was 7.4% in the Haltemprice and Howden/David Davis by-election. We started from a low base (2.7% in the 2005 general election), and we trebled our vote. On the ground, we had roughly £12,000 to spend, compared to the £100,000 that the Tories have apparently spent."

"Rupert ran a positive campaign, on issues such as the NHS, renewable energy, transport and living wages, and we are very pleased with the level of interest we've generated. With new members and supporters, we can now concentrate on Norwich South for the general election."

On the issue of the coming general election, Ramsay said that: "Norwich South will be different from Norwich North, since two-thirds of Norwich North was outside of Norwich City. The Greens have led local election vote share in Norwich for the last three years running, and we are the official opposition within Norwich City."

Rupert Read, the by-election candidate, added that: "The Norwich North campaign was done on a fraction of the budget of the large parties, some of which deluged residents with countless leaflets. We are pleased to have done so well without that kind of overkill."


Results, with % change from 2005:

Chloe Smith (C) 13,591 (39.54%, +6.29%)
Chris Ostrowski (Lab) 6,243 (18.16%, -26.70%)
April Pond (LD) 4,803 (13.97%, -2.22%)
Glenn Tingle (UKIP) 4,068 (11.83%, +9.45%)
Rupert Read (Green) 3,350 (9.74%, +7.08%)

2009 turnout:  45.76%, down -15.33% on 61.09% in 2005

Wednesday, 22 July 2009

Rupert Read visits Norfolk Solar today (pictured with owner Lee Rose)


'This excellent small business is helping to convert homes and businesses to solar energy and providing training for traditional plumbers and heating engineers to learn new skills for a low carbon future.  This is just the sort of enterprise which the Green Party wants to see reproduced a thousand times across the UK and its work should be incorporated into local colleges to equip the workforce for thousands of new green jobs. This won't just happen by leaving it to the market: there must be a national programme of insulation, and energy conservation with green job creation and the reskilling of existing workers: the future economy must be made green. Investment should be directed into green new jobs not wasteful I.D cards, motorway building and wars. '

NO2ID hustings - videolinks!

See links for the By-Election question responses that were filmed from the NO2ID Hustings debate on last Friday: - Question 1, ID Card - Part 1 - Question 1, ID Cards - Part 2 - Question 2, Afghanistan - Part 1 - Question 2, Afghanistan - Part 2 - Question 3, Norfolk Unitary Authority.

Make history...

On the eve of polling in the Norwich North by-election, Green Party candidate Rupert Read urged voters to make history by electing the first Green MP at Westminster. He said:


"Norwich people should not doubt their own power to change politics. They can. They already know that by voting Green they can get a Green politician - there are 20 Green councillors in Norwich. If they vote Green again (tomorrow/today), they will get a Green MP, make history and change the face of British politics. They will also give millions of British people hope, whereas one more Tory, LibDem or Labour MP would change nothing.


"This campaign has been a great step forward for the Green Party. We originated a pledge to run a clean campaign, which most of the other main parties signed. We've been helped by many supporters both local and from far afield, with a 'battle bus' run on recycled vegetable oil, but with only a fraction of the financial backing of the other three main parties. Yet we are seriously challenging the old parties. I hope Norwich voters continue to 'do different', as we say around here. Britain needs that difference and electing the first Green MP would make a big, big, difference."


Rupert Read and the Green Team will continue campaigning throughout polling day, Thursday. Their 'chip fat' battle bus will be touring Norwich.


"The Green party are developing, they know they've got a lot of support and the other parties better take notice because they work hard, they are young and they are keen. I've no doubt that Norwich could fall to them in the future."

Dr Ian Gibson, former MP for Norwich North


Endorsement letter for me...

To the Editor;

The Norwich North byelection offers a remarkable opportunity for the reshaping of British politics, less than a year out from the next General Election. 

For the first time ever, a Parliamentary byelection is taking place in a centre of Green Party strength, and the Greens' prospects are (as a result) being taken wholly seriously by voters and the media. 

Less than six months out from the Copenhagen climate conference, a conference that will make or break efforts to protect our climate from the battering to which human activities are subjecting it, it would be extremely timely to have an unprecedentedly strong showing from the Green Party in this byelection. Moreover, the Greens' strong commitment both to cleaning up politics and to achieving social justice only add force to the argument. And against the backdrop of an unprecedented and understandable loss of faith in the 'main 3' Parties, it is clear that there is all to play for in Norwich North. 

We the undersigned know the Green candidate, Rupert Read, and know him to be a person of integrity. We are pleased to be able to write in support of his candidature today. If the people of Norwich North vote for him, they will be voting for someone who would make a fine MP for a fine city.

Jonathon Porritt, Director, Forum for the Future
Aubrey Meyer, Director, Global Commons Institute and Nobel Prize nominee
George Monbiot, author
John Stewart, founder, Hacan Clear Skies
Peter Tatchell, human rights campaigner
Mayer Hillman, Senior Fellow Emeritus, Policy Studies Institute
Angie Zelter, founder, International Womens Peace Service
Mark Lynas, columnist and author.

This billboard has gone up around Norwich North, for the final week of the campaign!


This is the proprietess of Anna's Farm shop (Anna) in Norwich North, giving me a prize organic beetroot, in return for which I gave her a Green posterboard!

Tuesday, 21 July 2009

This is hilarious: 'Your petition to the Prime Minister has been approved'

----- Original Message -----
From: "10 Downing Street" <>
To: <>
Sent: Tuesday, July 21, 2009 1:00 PM
Subject: Your petition to the Prime Minister has been approved

> Your petition has been approved by the Number 10 web team, and
> is now available on the Number 10 website at the following
> address:
> Your petition reads:
> We the undersigned petition the Prime Minister to move the writ
> for Norwich North: make the byelection there happen asap!
> At present, and until this byelection is called by the
> government, the citizens of Norwich North are deprived of a
> voice in Parliament. There are rumours that the byelection may
> be delayed until the Autumn. THAT WOULD BE QUITE WRONG. If the
> byelection IS delayed until Autumn, then Norwich North
> residents will be deprived of an MP to take up their
> 'casework', as well as of a Parliamentary representative. The
> byelection ought to be called NOW, so that it can take place
> BEFORE this summer's Parliamentary recess. It is now good
> shying away from this contest... Prime Minister, we call upon
> you to act without delay, and to ensure that this byelection
> takes place within the next month!
> Thanks for submitting your petition.
> -- the ePetitions team

Last Night's Live Norwich North BBC Debate...

The Big Green Bus Hits Norwich North!

Thanks to everyone who has donated time or money to our campaign so far - the support has been fantastic and we've now raised nearly £2500, every penny of which is priceless as we Greens struggle to compete financially with the westminster party machines.

We still need as much help as possible though, on the ground (and at the bank!) so if you think you can assist please get in touch using the details below or click the donate button on the left hand side of the blog! 

Rupert Read: 01603 219294 / 07946 459066
John Francis (media officer): 07713 654784
Trevor Phillips (Norwich Green Party Press Officer): 07794 690322  

Monday, 20 July 2009

Feel that - it’s voter rumble building up in Norwich

This piece on the rising 'voter rumble' in the Norwich North by-election, was in yesterday's SUNDAY TIMES, penned by Rod Liddle. Better still: that voter rumble, according to Mr. Liddle, is the Green Party coming up! This is some article... read it and pass it on!!


The Green Party’s campaign bus takes to the streets of Norwich this week helping by-election candidate Rupert Read to deliver his message to every corner of the constituency. In Green Party livery, the classic Routemaster looks like a familiar London red bus but its actually green, running on recycled cooking oil.

“In the same way,” says Dr Read, “we’re hoping to turn Norwich from red to green this week; out with Labour, in with Green.”

Monday July 20th: Rupert Read and his Green Team of volunteers are joined on the London bus by the chair of the London Assembly, Darren Johnson. Starting from the railway station soon after 10.30 they’ll make stops around the city centre including Castle Meadow, All Saints Green and Theatre Street, speaking to passers-by about Green Party policies for radical improvements to public transport, including re-regulation of the bus industry so that it meets social need. Green London Assembly members ensured that all new London buses will run on hybrid engines by 2012 creating a third less pollution. The Greens would like to repeat this success in Norwich.
Darren Johnson said:
"There are no Green MPs yet in the House of Commons - and it shows! Greens have been a breath of fresh air on Norwich City Council and now we need that Green voice in Westminster. That is why I am urging people to vote Green on July 23rd."

Later in the day the campaign bus will be touring the Thorpe area.

Tuesday July 21st: The Green Team welcomes aboard the London bus Sian Berry, Green Party candidate in the London mayoral election. The London Assembly recently introduced a “Living Wage” of £7.45p an hour – above the government’s official minimum wage. It’s now the minimum for public sector workers in London and businesses are encouraged to follow suit. Thanks to Green Party councillors, the “Living Wage” has been adopted in principle by Norwich City Council. Economists are currently assessing at what level the “Living Wage” should be set in Norwich. At 10.00 the campaign bus will drop Sian Berry outside City Hall where she will meet Green councillors to help them promote the scheme.

Sian Berry said:
“As a councillor in Norwich, Rupert Read has worked hard on local issues, from housing to fair pay, and has made a real difference to people's lives. As a philosopher, he is just as comfortable tackling the big issues, from the best way to deal with climate change to the need for peaceful ways to resolve conflicts.

”Rupert has already represented the people of Norwich at City Hall for five years, and I urge the people of Norwich North to vote for him as a hardworking and principled representative for them in Westminster on July 23rd.”

Later in the day, the bus will be touring the Catton area.

Wednesday July 22nd: Together on the campaign bus, Rupert Read and Adrian Ramsay, deputy leader of the Green Party and leader of the Green official opposition on Norwich City Council, will be making stops in the Hellesdon area to focus on the main issues of the Greens’ campaign in Norwich North:

* Make them listen - about accountability and Green proposals for reform of Parliament.

*Protect public services - no to privatisation and protecting public services locally

*Green jobs now - green job creation in public transport, local agriculture and renewable energy

*Protect the countryside - opposition to large scale development in Norfolk countryside.

Rupert Read: 01603 219294 / 07946 459066
John Francis (media officer): 07713 654784
Trevor Phillips (Norwich Green Party Press Officer) who will be on the bus: 07794 690322

Images from the Norwich North campaign...


Rupert Read and Peter Tatchell with members of the Norwich LBGT community

Rupert Read, Peter Tatchell and Norwich North activists with our campaign messages!


[ A different version of this has just been published on ]

After 12 years in power, Labour has lost its way. The scrapping of the 10p
tax band, the poor deal for pensioners and PFI, are all examples of how
Labour's traditional values of fairness, equality and social justice have
been discarded.
In contrast, the Greens believe that each and every one of us, as citizens
of this country, should enjoy equal rights and fair treatment, and where
they are disadvantaged they should have access to the help they need to help
Even before the "credit crunch" struck, roughly 15% of 16-25-year-olds were
out of work. In response Greens prioritised the creation of 1 million jobs
(in renewable energy, energy efficiency, local food, and in public
services). We want long-term investment to create a healthier Britain; for
example an NHS free at the point of use (free GP visits, prescriptions and
dentistry). Older people deserve to be treated with fairness and respect so
we support a £165 a week state pension.
We reject Labour plans to close post offices and to privatise the Royal
One issue that I've pushed hard on in Norwich North is opposing the plans
for 'academy schools.' It's simply introducing privatised schools by
stealth. Education should be about giving _all_ our children the best
Lastly we believe Labour has failed abysmally on housing. The Greens believe
we need a programme of social housing (both buying up and converting homes,
especially empty stock, as well as some new Council-house build).
We support a "Right to Rent" scheme whereby local authorities would purchase
homes threatened by repossession and rent these back to occupiers. We want
more support for housing co-ops and greater protection for tenants.
We must ask ourselves why so little has been done despite Labour being in
power for 12 years? And, whether a vote for the Tories on the 23rd of July
will lead to a better future for people in Norfolk?!
It's little wonder that so many people here, especially disillusioned
ex-Labour voters, are switching to the Greens.

Sunday, 19 July 2009



'Green' investments are no longer just a luxury, but are now a legal
responsibility, according to a new report by the United Nations Environment
and a powerful group of asset managers controlling some $2 trillion in

The 120-page publication released today argues that if investment
consultants and others do not incorporate environmental, social and
governance (ESG) considerations into their services, they face "a very real
risk that they will be sued for negligence."

It also stressed the central role that the world's largest institutional
investors – including pensions funds, insurance companies, sovereign wealth
funds and mutual funds – have in easing the transition to a low-carbon and
resource-efficient green economy.

"ESG issues are not peripheral but should be part of mainstream investment
decisions-making processes across the industry," said UNEP Executive
Director Achim Steiner.

Further, he noted that creative market mechanisms and other incentives can
help to ensure that as investors return to markets after the current
financial turmoil ends, they will put their funds into a greener economy and
not the "brown economy of yesterday."

The new report, entitled "Fiduciary Responsibility: Legal and Practical
Aspects of Integrating Environmental, Social and Governance Issues into
Institutional Investment," was produced by Asset Management Working Group of
the UNEP Finance Initiative (UNEP FI), a partnership between the agency and
more nearly 200 financial institutions around the world.

It was launched on the eve of the annual Principles for Responsible
Investment (PRI) event in Sydney, Australia, which will draw many of the
largest institutional investors.

Almost 600 institutions, representing over $18 trillion in assets, have
signed up to the PRI, a joint effort between the UNEP FI and the
Global Compact, a voluntary initiative
to promote corporate citizenship which currently involves over 5,000
companies across 130 countries.

'Academy schools' debate: Me and other candidates in the media on this...

15:27 GMT, Thursday, 16 July 2009 16:27 UK
Debate rages over academy schools

By Nic Rigby
BBC News, Norwich

One of the big education issues for parents in Norwich North - where a
by-election is taking place next week - is that of academy schools.
These schools, originally called city academies when first established
in 2000, are state-funded privately run schools with outside sponsors.

In Norwich, Heartsease High School became the Open Academy in 2008
despite opposition from parents and teachers. Controversy dogged the
process and its first principal has since departed.

Heartsease received extra investment from the government and sponsors
the Bishop of Norwich and Christian businessman Graham Dacre. The
pupils had new uniforms and the school had a new principal Lindsay

Everything appeared to set the scene for success, but then at the
beginning of the month parents of pupils at the school received
letters saying Ms Knight would no longer be principal of the school.

Mr Dacre told the BBC that he hoped "the academy could make a positive
impact on the community of Heartsease".
"I hope whoever is elected to represent Norwich North will be a
supporter of academies and will do everything to support it," he said.

But Mike Smith, Norfolk county secretary of the National Union of
Teachers, said he could see very little advantage from a school
becoming an academy as they are still funded by the government, but
lose local accountability.

'Radical new approach'

In December last year a report by the Sutton Trust education charity
found that 13 of 29 academies inspected by Ofsted were rated
satisfactory, with only six rated outstanding.

Labour candidate for Norwich North seat Chris Ostrowski told the BBC
that academies should not be imposed from above.

"We need to make sure everyone is consulted... so everyone comes
together to raise standards," he said.

Chloe Smith, the Conservative candidate, said there had been some
local concern about Heartsease and the departure of the principal.

"We need a radical new approach to getting the supply side of schools
right, so that parents and church groups and charities can set up
schools and run them the way they know is best for their children,"
she said.

Liberal Democrat candidate April Pond said she was not a great
supporter of the government's academy school policy but felt at the
moment they might be the only way to get schools up to acceptable
levels. She said: "My view is that it would have been really nice if
this government had done what it said it would do and bring all
schools to a reasonable standard."

Green candidate Rupert Read criticised the need for academy schools.
"We believe the move to academy schools is wrong. It is privatisation
by stealth. Education should be about giving all our kids the best
chance," he said.

Glenn Tingle, the candidate for the United Kingdom Independence Party,
said academy schools were not the answer for improving education.
He said a return to the 11-plus exam was needed and added: "We would
like a grammar school in every town."

Put An Honest Man Into Parliament candidate Craig Murray said the
academy schemes can give "undue influence over children to people
motivated by peculiar religious views".

Independent candidate Bill Holden said before setting up academies
politicians should first "make sure children can read or write".

Rev Robert West, the British National Party candidate, said academies
evaded the real issue of the need for discipline in schools.

The Norwich North by-election is taking place on Thursday 23 July.

Councillor Rupert Read, Green Party candidate in the Norwich North byelection.
Thanks, in anticipation!

Saturday, 18 July 2009

Me on ID cards live from Norwich North hustings

Thursday, 16 July 2009

'Recession is damaging East Anglia's education' Green candidate warns [Media release]

Education for over sixteens in East Anglia is being damaged by the recession. That was the warning today from Rupert Read, the Green Party candidate in the Norwich North by-election, and a Norwich city councillor.
Dr Read, who is a lecturer at the University of East Anglia,  was responding to a report released today by the University and College Union (UCU), which reveals that in the Eastern region at least 39 jobs are at risk in further education and 28 jobs are at risk in higher education: a total of 67 jobs at risk.
In total across the UK 5,891 jobs are at risk or being cut with 4,593 in higher education and 1,298 in further education. Over 100,000 students will be affected. The union warned that the figures understate the problem as many colleges and universities have not released their full staffing plans, but job cuts are growing.
Rupert Read said:
'Across the UK there is a worrying cutback in the staffing of post-school education. East Anglia has not escaped this, with job losses growing across the region.  It is clear that universities and colleges are tightening their belts, cutting back on staff and worsening the prospects for school leavers and others wanting to study.
'The government should not allow education to suffer during the recession, it should be equipping students with the new skills and knowledge needed to help create a low carbon economy. We must develop green technologies and businesses and green jobs.  The Green Party's 'Green New Deal' sets out how to do this and education's role is vital. '
Commenting on the situation in Norwich, Rupert Read added:
' UEA (the University of East Anglia) has so far managed to avoid compulsory redundancies for teaching staff but unions are concerned by the lack of information available about staffing plans.
'At City College, teaching staff are under increasing pressures as student numbers rise. A reorganisation is underway which is expected to lead to the loss of many support staff jobs next year.'


In the Eastern region, 67 jobs are at risk:  39 in further education and 28 in higher education.

The full figures can be found at education_main_jul09.doc

Key figures:

·         Total jobs = 5,891

·         Further education = 1,298

·         Higher education = 4,593

·         106,038 students affected - based on student:staff ratio of 18:1 (conservative estimate as SSR higher in further education)


Norwich ponders a Green future as byelection looms

Great article in the Guardian on the Greens and Norwich North. Perhaps someone should point out to the LibDems though that THEY are the ones dividing the non-tory voters...The Greens are the party with the momentum!

Caroline Lucas on Norwich North...

"What we're finding on the doorstep is that people are really looking for a different voice, they're looking for a fresh input into politics. That's what our candidate Rupert Read can provide. That's what I think people are going to vote for on the 23rd."

...Caroline Lucas MEP, Green Party Leader.

Greens call for rethink and consultation on eco-town design - but welcome government view that town does not need NDR

Norwich Green Party remains sceptical about the Rackheath eco-town which was given the go ahead by government today. Green councillors say the development is part of an oversized growth plan for Norwich and is certainly not yet 'eco' enough. The decision to go ahead, they argue, must now kickstart fresh thinking and consultation on how much development Norwich really needs, how it can be sustainable and how an eco-town can be part of it.

The party also emphasises that the best eco principles should in any case be in all local housing and transport stategies.

Green councillor Rupert Read, the party's candidate in the Norwich North parliamentary by-election, welcomed the government statement that the eco-town does NOT require the proposed Northern Distributor Road (NDR) - a view long held by Green Party councillors but rejected by other parties. He called for the NDR to be scrapped.

The association of the NDR with the plans for the eco-town has been a major reason for Green Party criticism of the eco-town proposal. However, the party still has many concerns until a more sustainable overall development plan for Norwich has been agreed.

Rupert Read said:

'The decision to go ahead with the eco-town must now be followed by fresh thinking and consultation on the detail, scale and nature of the project. A proper eco-community should contain local jobs and local services as well as excellent public transport links and zero carbon homes.

'I welcome the government rejection of the claim that the eco-town needs the NDR. Yet another spurious argument for that road has dissolved and the NDR plan should be scrapped. The NDR proposals have been distorting and skewing the local strategies for transport and housing and we need to look at these afresh. Plans for massive housing expansion, pushed by the Conservative led county council, via the GNDP (Greater Norwich Development Partnership), are not justifiable.

'The government and local councils should now produce a new development plan for Norwich with excellent transport and other sustainable features - and consult with the people of Norwich, particularly North East Norwich, as they have not been adequately consulted so far.

Wednesday, 15 July 2009

Peter Tatchell in Norwich tomorrow - our schedule

0700 Thursday July 16th: Junction of Plumstead Road and Knox Road, Norwich:  Peter, Rupert and supporters will be outside Norwich Prison to demonstrate opposition to moves to privatise prisons. The Prison Service has embarked on market testing exercises aimed at placing more prisons under the control of private companies and imposing new working conditions on staff. Norwich Prison is not expected to be included in the current round but it is feared by opponents of the scheme that its turn may not be far behind. The Greens will demonstrate their opposition to privatisation and their support for staff as they arrive for work. Rupert Read is already concerned about reports that the contracting out of prison education services and the regular re-tendering for them has weakened and disrupted an already poorly resourced service. Re-offending rates are higher among prisoners who do not complete an education course.


1000 Thursday July 16th: The Forum, Norwich: Peter will meet members of the LGBT community preparing for Norwich Pride, the city's first ever weekend of gay themed talks, music and film events, which begins on July 25th just after the election. It aims to make Norwich a city where everyone feels safe, without bullying. Community film-maker Michelle Savage will be filming Peter as part of the event, and will show him work in progress on a presentation to be shown on the Forum's giant screen.


1230 Thursday July 16th: Green Campaign Shop, 68 St Augustine's Street, Norwich: Peter will launch the latest Green Party posters for the final phase of the campaign. Later he will join Rupert Read canvassing among shoppers in Magdalen Street.

The posters set out major campaign themes:


*Make them listen - about accountability and Green proposals for reform of Parliament.


*Protect public services - no to privatisation and protecting public services locally


*Green jobs now - green job creation in public transport, local agriculture and renewable energy


*Protect the countryside - opposition to large scale development in Norfolk countryside.

Great BBC national radio coverage of Norwich North

BBC 5 live:
Listen from 0.14.00 and especially from 0.15.35, with comments of local
people on Norwich North.

Campaign Endorsement From Jonathon Porritt, Environmentalist and Former FoE Director:

“I hope voters in Norwich North will seize the opportunity that this By-election provides them with: to draw a line in the sand between today’s tawdry, life-destroying politics, and the positive transformation that green politics now promises. In Rupert Read, the Green Party has a candidate who could achieve that breakthrough in Norwich North”.

RR on Daily Politics...

Check out my interview on the Daily Politics yesterday:

Sian Berry, To Campaign in Norwich North, July 21st

Sian Berry, the former Green Party London mayoral candidate, will join Rupert to campaign in Norwich North on July 21st.

Sian says:

"I am really looking forward to taking to the streets of Norwich again in support of Rupert Read in the Norwich North by-election next week.

I have always known Rupert to be a tireless campaigner and someone with a unique perspective on bringing fair play back into politics.

As a councillor in Norwich, he has worked hard on local issues, from housing to fair pay, and has made a real difference to people's lives. And, as a philosopher, he is just as comfortable tackling the big issues, from the best way to deal with climate change to the need for peaceful ways to resolve conflicts.

Rupert has already represented the people of Norwich at City Hall for 5 years, and I urge the people of Norwich North to vote for him as a hardworking and principled representative for them in Westminster on 23 July."

Tatchell supports Greens in Norwich North election

He joins the Green campaign on 15 and 16 July

Peter Tatchell speaks:
Public meeting tonight
7pm Wednesday July 15th
The Norman Centre, Bignold Road, Norwich.

Now is the time for disaffected Labour voters to support the Green Party and its Norwich North candidate, says human rights campaigner Peter Tatchell

Below are advance excerpts from his Wednesday night speech in Norwich.

Peter Tatchell will say:

“Labour has lost its heart and soul. It took us into an illegal war in Iraq. It has eroded hard won civil liberties, commercialised public services like education and heath, and is backing new nuclear and coal-fired power stations, to the detriment of the environment.

“The Greens have replaced Labour as the most progressive party in British politics. We Greens are the only party that wholeheartedly defends public services and working people.

“I urge disillusioned Labour voters to come over to the Greens. Don’t give your vote to a government that takes you for granted and has betrayed Labour values. Support a party that stands for a fairer, more just and free society – the Green Party.

“I know Rupert Read, the Green Party candidate for Norwich North. He is a personal friend, and an intelligent, passionate defender of liberty, justice, peace and the environment.

“He’s got vision. He knows a better world is possible and, as your MP, he would work with real commitment to achieve it.

“Rupert is a man of the people. That’s what we need at Westminster. We don’t want more machine politicians churned out by the head offices of the Labour, Conservative and Liberal Democrat parties.

“Why send another Labour, Tory or Lib Dem clone to Westminster? Give the Greens a chance. Parliament needs some Green MPs, not just more MPs from the old, grey, establishment parties. There are enough of them already. MPs from the big three parties are yesterday’s men.

“Gordon Brown has slashed interest rates to savers and allowed people's pensions to be eroded. He is closing post offices.

“Labour plans to waste over £120 billion of public money on Trident nuclear missiles, two new super aircraft carriers, ID cards, new motorway building, the war in Afghanistan and the botched computerisation of the NHS.

“The Greens would cancel this waste. We’d spend the £120 billion on new council housing, better pensions, improved public services, renewable energy and cheaper, safer and cleaner public transport.

“Parliament needs a grassroots, anti-politician like Rupert, not another party establishment career politician. That's why I am supporting his campaign to be elected as the Green MP for Norwich North.

“Fed up with the established parties and corrupt MPs? It is time for change. Register your anger by voting Green - for a new, clean politics.

“There are already plenty of Tory, Labour and Liberal Democrat MPs. Electing another MP from these big-three established parties won't make any difference.

“But electing Rupert Read as a Green MP for Norwich North will make history. He would be Britain’s first ever Green MP. It would put Norwich on the map big-time,” said Mr Tatchell.

Tuesday, 14 July 2009

Turn Norwich North from red to Green on July 23rd!

Letter For Hope - The Guardian, 14th July 2009.

Click the link below to read the Letter for Hope in today's Guardian, with the following signatories:

Mark Lynas, Mayer Hillman, Aubrey Meyer, John Stewart, Angie Zelter, Peter Tatchell, Mark Thomas

Jonathon Porritt and George Monbiot have now also signed!]

'This by-election effort is of NATIONAL importance to the Party - let's swing together behind it, nationally and collectively and achieve a real breakthrough in British Politics!'


Green Party city councillors in Norwich want the council and all political parties to express unambiguous opposition to any possibility of the development of a local waste incinerator.

Norwich City councillors will tonight (Tuesday 14) be considering a Labour motion which expresses concern about waste management in Norfolk, in the light of the County Council's decision to abandon plans for an 'anaerobic digestion plant' at Costessey, to process waste. The motion seeks to press the County Council to explore alternative waste disposal ideas, but Green Party councillors are concerned that it does not rule out incineration - a method they consider contrary to good waste management and potentially harmful to public health.

Green Party councillor Rupert Read will try to amend the motion so that the county council will be asked to categorically rule out incineration from its waste management options.

City Councillor Rupert Read said:

' After the County Council's abandonment of the Costessey waste treatment project I am concerned that the new Tory led council may be drifting towards undesirable waste management plans.

'It is vital that those plans are absolutely clear and rule out any option for an incinerator and I shall be trying to amend the city council motion to make this demand clear.

'Incineration is a poor way of dealing with waste: it does not encourage waste minimisation or recycling and it has a long association with health problems for local communities.

'I shall also be outlining some of the Green Party's positive policies for better waste management, including improved recycling facilities, re-use and repair facilities and mechanical, biological treatment. These proposals would be much better for the environment and create more jobs.'

The Bank of Britain – A Proposal

The Government has recently proposed that the Bank of England should take on the primary responsibility for macro-prudential regulation in this country (see this thoughtful appraisal). Such significant shake-ups in our fundamental financial (and political) institutions do not happen frequently – they are made possible only by crisis. So we do not have repeated opportunities to get them right. We have one shot. This article is a personal ‘think-piece’, a sketch of how to try to ensure that we get this matter right.

The recent banking crisis has surely shown that banks that are ‘light-touch’ regulated will invariably end up taking ever-greater risks, in pursuit of ever-greater profits. Such endemic risk is not basis for a secure real economy. Thus I have argued previously that there is a case for the banking sector to be genuinely nationalised (i.e. not run at arms-length), on a long-term basis...

Article continues here at:

Pictures From The Peoples Panel Event for the Norwich North By-election

Monday, 13 July 2009

Norwich North By-election PCS Hustings, July 16th 2009

Please try to attend these important hustings - Anglia TV will be present so a good showing from the Greens would be very helpful!

Mark Thomas Video - Why You Should Vote Green!

Green Party By-Election Video!

Sunday, 12 July 2009

Rupert Read: his promises for Norwich North

Click the images to find out what the Greens are offering Norwich North (pdf link):

Saturday, 11 July 2009

The mote in April's eye

It's sad to see the LibDems continuing to practice dirty politics as, out of their extreme fear of finishing behind us, they scattergun more and more vitriol against us/me. What the citizens of Norwich North are saying to me is that they want the candidates to run a positive campaign and focus on the issues. I've been talking a lot today about resisting excessive development around the edges of the Norwich area, and preserving the character of the countryside. April Pond seems by contrast to be basing a significant part of the LibDem campaign on smearing the Greens.  If the LibDems had confidence in their policies, surely they would choose to run on those?
Of course Ms. Pond is presumably being told from above how to run the campaign, and so I recognise that she is under pressure to continue to go negative. But she sets the tone and that is why she should sign the Clean Campaign Pledge.
I once again therefore invite my Lib Dem and Labour rivals to sign up to our Clean Campaign Pledge, a practical demonstration of one's commitment to cleaning up politics. If the LibDems were to do this, then I would be quite ready to treat all April Pond's smears and negative campaigning as (to coin a phrase) water under the bridge...

Thursday, 9 July 2009

Rupert Read with Tony Juniper, Norwich North Election Rally


Patrick Harvie MSP talks about what just a few Greens can achieve in a Parliament

The Green Party candidate in the Norwich North by-election, Rupert Read, is aiming to become the first ever Green MP at Westminster in the election on July 23rd.

But in fact the Greens already have two MPs – in the Scottish Parliament at Holyrood.

One of them is Patrick Harvie MSP, who has been a Green MSP for Glasgow since 2003. Mr Harvie will be in Norwich on Sunday and Monday (July 12th and 13th) in support of Dr Read’s campaign in Norwich North.

Patrick Harvie says although the Greens may be few in number, they regularly hold the balance of power at Holyrood and have notched up some remarkable achievements, including the first Green Act in Britain – Patrick’s own legislation to tackle hate crime.

The Scottish Green MPs have also delievered:

* a Climate Change Bill with stronger targets than those set for the UK
* a £27.4m Climate Change Fund for innovative communities in Scotland
* a £30m Scottish Investment Fund for socially beneficial enterprises
* legislation to protect the coastline against the risk of oilspills in the Firth of Forth
* a strong campaign to get a buildings insulation programme in place across Scotland
* helped secure the abolition of student tuition fees in Scotland

Patrick Harvie is clear that even a small number of Green MPs at Westminster could begin working towards similar progressive measures. That’s why he’ll be out campaigning with Rupert Read in various locations across Norwich North on Sunday and Monday, and ready to meet the media on request.

Twelve to Contest Norwich North...

Wednesday, 8 July 2009

Norwich North Clean Campaign Pledge

Click to see the Norwich North Clean Campaign Pledge  and find out who has and who hasn't joined me in signing it! 



The invitation to sign a pledge to run a clean campaign in the by-election, proposed by Rupert Read, the Green Party candidate in Norwich North, has set the other parties thinking.


Conservative candidate Chloe Smith has decided that she'll sign. Lib-Dem candidate April Pond has decided that she won't. Labour candidate Chris Ostrowski says the pledge (full text below) doesn't go far enough and proposes an extra pledge of his own.


Mr Ostrowski says candidates should pledge that if they are elected, their work as an MP should be their only job.


The Green candidate, Rupert Read, is happy to accept that suggestion and is prepared to sign that pledge.


He has made the same undertaking in a leaflet which is already being delivered in the constituency. See it here on page 4.


Dr Read says: "We are starting to hear about the many MPs who earn thousands through second jobs and directorships, who instead of listening to their constituents are listening to big banks and corporations. If I am elected, my only job will be to serve and represent the people of Norwich North at Westminster.


"It sounds as if the Labour candidate in Norwich North wants to make that pledge, which is good. But what about all the Labour MPs who have second jobs already?"


Dr Read's message now to Mr Ostrowksi is this: "I'm prepared to sign your pledge; what's stopping you from signing ours?"


STOP PRESS: According to the EADT, UKIP's candidate is signing the Pledge:

Tuesday, 7 July 2009

Peter Tatchell To Visit Norwich, July 15th


The Green Party candidate in the Norwich North by-election has signed a voluntary pledge to keep the campaign clean and is challenging candidates of other parties to join him. The Conservative Party candidate has already agreed to do so. A formal response from Labour and UKIP is awaited. The LibDems have refused to sign the pledge.

The invitation was extended by Dr Rupert Read, who believes there is no need to resort to the kind of personal attacks which some parties try to level against rival candidates. There has been a positive response from Chloe Smith, the Conservative candidate.

Rupert Read said: "It is because we disagree hugely with the Tories, and other parties, about real issues, and because we want this election to be about those issues, that we are putting forward this statement. A clean campaign is not one without disagreements; on the contrary, it is a campaign in which the real and major disagreements between the candidates are not obscured by lies, personal attacks and mud-throwing."                                     

The same pledge was signed by all candidates on the Green Party list in the eastern region at the European elections last month. At that time it drew the public approval of "the man in the white suit", veteran anti-sleaze campaigner and former Independent MP, Martin Bell.

The pledge (full text below) promises that signatories will tell only the truth about the achievements of their party, make only reasonable promises and stick to campaigning on issues that concern the people of Norwich North without resorting to personal attacks.

It encourages voters to police the pledge themselves and to keep signatories to their word by reporting to the media any apparent breaches.

After the scandal surrounding the MPs expenses expose Dr Read says the object is to demonstrate that politics can be a clean and positive activity engaged in for the good of all. He aims to play a full part in cleaning up the image of Parliament should he be elected the Greens' first MP on July 23rd.



We, the undersigned pledge, in the Norwich North by-election campaign:

To show by our actions that politics need not be a dirty game, but can be a clean and positive activity, engaged in genuinely for the good of all.

To tell the truth about what we stand for and have achieved, and about what others stand for and have achieved.

To refrain from personal attacks.

Not to mislead the public about who is doing well and about who is likely to win in these elections.

To make only honest and reasonable promises.

To fight a clean, positive and honest campaign around the issues that concern the people of Norwich North.

In particular, to be honest about public spending, and not to scaremonger in ways that may frighten the most vulnerable members of our society, such as children and elderly people.

To take money only from organisations and individuals whose motives in giving us money we do not have reason to suspect.

To sign up to the transparency pledge on MPs' expenses below.

We encourage voters:

To expect from us decent and honest behaviour, as candidates and as their elected representatives.

To ask Parties operating in this by-election whether they have signed up to the Pledge or not, and, if not, to encourage them to do so.

And to help us enforce this Pledge, by reporting truthfully to us and to the media any apparent breaches of it.

We hope by this pledge to serve as a positive example for Norwich and for other election campaigns in the future.

And, finally, if elected, we pledge:

1.       To publish online details of all of personal expenses incurred as a Member of Parliament.

2.       To publish online details of all of office expenses incurred as a Member of Parliament.

3.       To publish online details of all donations of more than £1,000, in line with Electoral Commission rules.

4.       To appoint a local firm of auditors to approve expenses accounts at the end of every financial year.

5.       To open up the unedited expenses claims to local newspapers at the end of every financial year.

6.       To never claim for food.

7.       To never claim for furniture or household goods.

8.       To meet all tax liabilities – such as stamp duty – without claiming them from the taxpayer.


Signed: Rupert Read, Green Party candidate

                Chloe Smith, Conservative Party candidate


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

Rupert's Read

22. 23. 31. 32.