Saturday, 30 January 2010

If only our leaders were as brave... Check out my latest EDP newspaper column, on local here Peter Offord!

Friday, 29 January 2010

Free trade? - and open borders?

Free movement of capital ought to imply free movement of labour. The only people with a right to be able to support having any immigration controls at all are people like me, people such as Greens who do NOT support free movement of capital. It is a cruel joke for free-trade and free-capital-movement fanatics, including the majority of Labour, LibDem, Conservative and UKIP politicians, to call for stricter immigration controls into this country.

If you do not believe in complete abolition of immigration controls, then you ought not to believe in free trade and the abolition of capital and exchange controls.

--    Rupert Read  Green Party Councillor, Norwich.   [If you have an urgent email for me while I am away from a regular computer, you may wish to try contacting me instead on] 

Thoughts on 'immigration'

UKIP's dog-whistle politics include centrally an ongoing attack on immigration into this country, and pressure on immigrants to assimilate. What I find hilarious about UKIP, however, is that quite a lot of their voters in fact have holiday homes in - or even live permanently in - France or Spain, and do not integrate or assimilate AT ALL, there. It is such a farce to hear such people calling for English to be the required national language of the UK, when these people themselves live for months of the year or even permanently abroad, and can barely even say 'Merci'...
Now, it is of course absolutely clear that there are absolute ecological limits to growth (of the economy, of population) on our finite planet, and (by extension) on each country within that planet, and each locality. It is tragic and deeply revealing to see how many people assume that economic growth can be permanent, while shouting loudly that population growth cannot be. (Do such people secretly love consumer-goods more than they love their fellow people? One suspects so...)  One can't have it both ways. The truth that population growth must come to an end is not compatible with fantasies of endless economic growth (unless economic growth can be entirely 'angelized', which it cannot be - see e.g. the work of Herman Daly, and also of Georgescu-Roegen and of Aubrey Mayer). ...So, yes: over-population is a real issue. Though (1) It is a less important issue in terms of ecological impact than ecological footprint is (i.e. one child in the UK absorbs as much resources as about 70 kids in Burkina Faso), and (2) It would be of course quite wrong to use it as an excuse for xenophobia, etc etc. In fact, it ought to lead us to recognise how we are all in the same boat.
We need for instance to give VASTLY more aid to the '3rd world', to compensate for and to adapt to manmade climate change. The only way to stop our fellow human beings wanting to have lots of children and to flee here is to tackle the reasons why they flee here - often terrible economic insecurity, ongoing environmental collapse, oil-fuelled-wars, etc. Tackle the 'supplyside' factors behind immigration, asylum, etc., and only then will you actually be addressing the cause, rather than the symptoms.
--    Rupert Read  Green Party Councillor, Norwich.   [If you have an urgent email for me while I am away from a regular computer, you may wish to try contacting me instead on] 

'I'm not a racist, but...' may be _true_

This is my latest article on Open Democracy.
--    Rupert Read  Green Party Councillor, Norwich.   [If you have an urgent email for me while I am away from a regular computer, you may wish to try contacting me instead on] 

Thursday, 28 January 2010

Where's Your Argument?

Informal Logic, Critical Thinking and Argumentation
A Two-Day Conference at Manchester Metropolitan University, Cheshire UK
Monday and Tuesday April 12th & 13th 2010

Frans van Eemeren
on the Pragma-Dialectical Approach to Argument
Lars Hertzberg
on the Grammar of Inference
Don S. Levi
on the Informality of Logic
Michael Loughlin
on the "Evidence Based Medicine" Debate
Steven Poole
on Unspeak
John Powell
on Criteria for Good Argument
Rupert Read
on “Reframing” and “Unspeak”? or Politics Without Propaganda?
Jamie Whyte
on Bad Thoughts and Worse Policies

The conference is free to attend, but you must book a place before April 1st 2010. We can arrange discounted accommodation, for a booking fee of £10 per person

For More Information email:

The conference is supported by donations from the Aristotelian Society, the British Society for the Philosophy of Science, the Mind Association and the Department of Interdisciplinary Studies, MMU Cheshire

Organisers: Ben Cassidy and Phil Hutchinson

Wednesday, 27 January 2010

Unreported crime

Last Friday, as a local ward Councillor, I went to one of Charles Clarke's community meetings. Much talk from
the platform about crime levels in Norwich going down. ...But these are
of course reported crime levels. Those in the audience at a meeting like this
are presumably more community-spirited than most residents - that's why they turned up.
But again and again, when asked, they said that they had NOT reported to the
police (or to anyone) the crimes and ASB incidents they then related to
us. . .
I suspect that crime levels are NOT going down, but may indeed be
going up - only REPORTED CRIME is going down.
It's true that people tend significantly to overestimate their risk of being victims of crime (this has a lot to
do with bad journalism). And it's true that, compared to many other parts of the world, Norwich is a very
safe place. But maybe if we were more realistic about how much crime is not reported these days, we would
not be so complacent about just how safe (or not) our streets and citizens are. There is a lot of crime and anti-social-behaviour
going on which is just not being reported.

Wednesday, 13 January 2010

Gaza: Beneath the Bombs – meet the author

Palestinian girls on wagonload of bombed olive trees, Jabalia, January 2009 (S.Lock)

‘An honest, forthright account full of compassion and insight. It plunges the reader into Gaza.’ Jeremy Hardy

The Israeli offensive in Gaza was described by Amnesty international as ‘22 days of death and destruction’. Defying an international press ban, Sharyn Lock’s eye witness blogs became crucial reading for anyone following the conflict. Sharyn’s candid and dramatic accounts, now published as a book, provide an important glimpse behind the media black-out, of Palestinians who face their oppression with courage - and humour

Reading & signing of “Gaza: beneath the bombs” by Sharyn Lock
Featuring readings by the author and by Ian Gibson
Saturday January 23rd 2010, 4.30pm
At The Book Hive, 53 London Street, Norwich

Refreshments available and donations will be collected for Defend the Rescuers, helping medics in Gaza.

For further information, call Helen on 01508 531636 or visit

Tuesday, 12 January 2010

A voice for the future:

Thursday, 7 January 2010

Adrian Ramsay opens our Norwich Green Party Shop!

Tuesday, 5 January 2010

Post-Copenhagen factbite

Current climate policies place society on course for 3.5C global warming and almost 800 ppm CO2 equivalent by 2100. So the latest output by the Climate Action Tracker run by the Potsdam Institute suggests. CO2 concentrations would be over 650 ppm. Existing pledges will not halt emissions growth until 2040, 35 years after the 2015 target called for by the IPCC. By 2020 emissions from all sources would be some 55 billion tonnes of CO2 equivalent, up from around 46 today, and just 3 billion less than business as usual
Time to change course...

ENDS Report on CRU hack

The authoritative ENDS Report endorses my judgement that the hack at UEA last Autumn casts no doubt on the underlying climate science. Worth a read:


Monday, 4 January 2010

My Latest Left Foot Forward Column

The best way to tackle health inequalities, Mr Cameron, is to tackle all inequality

For once, we can agree with the Adam Smith Institute: David Cameron’s new headline plans to “banish health inequalities to history” by introducing “a health premium that targets resources on the poorest areas” will fail.

David-Cameron-NHSThe key reason why it will fail was already brought out implicitly on Left Foot Forward a couple of months ago – it is that you cannot attack major societal inequalities, such as health inequalities, without attacking inequality itself.

In other words, by far the most consequential way of reducing health inequalities, it turns out, is to target economic and other societally-central inequalities directly. Not to target absolute poverty or ‘deprivation’, not to pursue economic growth, but simply to reduce inequality (whether by reducing high earnings, or by increasing low earnings).

Here is how Richard Wilkinson and Kate Pickett put this point, in their celebrated recent book (pp. 233-4) ‘The Spirit Level: Why more equal societies almost always do better’ (a book given the plaudit by the New Statesman recently of being their “Book of the Decade”):

“For ten years Britain has had a Government committed to narrowing the health gap between rich and poor. In an independent review of policy in different countries, a Dutch expert said Britain was ahead of other countries in implementing policies to reduce health inequalities.

“However, health inequalities in Britain have shown little or no tendency to decline… Rather than reducing inequality itself, the initiatives aimed at tackling health or social problems are nearly always attempts to break the links between socio-economic disadvantage and the problems it produces.

“The unstated hope is that people – particularly the poor – can carry on in the same circumstances, but will somehow no longer succumb to mental illness, teenage pregnancy, educational failure, obesity, or drugs.”

This passage almost reads as if it were written in response to today’s Conservative initiative. If Cameron’s advisers had taken the trouble to read Wilkinson and Pickett, they would have saved themselves from the embarrassment of this new policy of theirs which is fated to fail.

To use a medical metaphor, the ‘health premium’ policy is a band-aid, which will do no good in curing a degenerative condition.

If Cameron were serious about reducing health inequalities, he would target economic inequality directly, as Wilkinson and Pickett recommend. But that would be very hard for the Conservative Party to stomach, seeing as the Conservatives are the party which, under Margaret Thatcher and John Major, pursued policies which hugely escalated inequality, when they were last in power.

In the Preface to their book, Wilkinson and Pickett note that they almost called the book ‘Evidence-based politics’, on analogy with the term ‘evidence-based medicine’.

The subtitle of Left Foot Forward is ‘evidence-based blogging’. The evidence is in – and it shows very clearly that you cannot cure the nation’s health ills, except by curing the nation of the disease of rampant economic inequality.

Sunday, 3 January 2010

The wisdom of crowds helps us Greens

Evidence-based politics works for the left / for greens. There is simple and unequivocal evidence that reducing inequality improves society for everyone (including the rich), that manmade climate change is destabilising the climate for everyone (including rich countries), etc. etc.
The issue is this: what are the issues where directly seeking 'the wisdom of crowds' can help to put the needful policies into place?
Well: One such issue, perhaps surprisingly, is reducing inequality and economic growth (i.e. the fact that we don't need any more of it). Ask economists, and most of them will say we still need more economic growth. But ask real people, and it turns out that what they actually want is: not to be worse off than other people (See Solwick and Hemenway, "Is more always better? A survey of positional concerns" (Journal of Economic Behaviour and Organisation 1998 (vol. 70), 157-83)). If you offer people economic growth as the alleged means of them becoming less worse off than other people, then they will go for it. But of course, comparative judgements are a zero sum game; so, actually, the only way to get people what they want is to get them off the treadmill, and pursue policies actually designed directly to reduce inequality. And, as S & H show, if you ask people, _that_ is what they will tell you they want (i.e. not being worse off than other people, even if it means accepting absolute reductions in one's own 'living standards', to achieve that goal, to achieve that improved quality of life).
Now that's what I call wisdom.

What if there's a 'hung-parliament'?

If as of this summer there is no Party that wins an overall majority, then I hope that national politicians will - if this happens - show a little of the maturity that many of us local Councillors have of necessity developed concerning this phenomenon, in recent years. The number of Councils in no overall control is, I believe, at an all-time high. Certainly, since Norwich went no overall control a few years ago, coinciding with the rise of the Green Party here, there has I think been a significant improvement in behaviour in the Council chamber. Parties have grown used to working with one another. Not just barracking each other. We have had a Labour minority administration for a few years now, here in Norwich; it has been on balance an OK experience for all concerned, I think. If national politicians are serious about doing politics differently, then they too will learn to live in a 'balanced Parliament' (the term 'hung [Council/Parliament]' is SOOO 20th century...).

Saturday, 2 January 2010

Rupert's philosophy, online

For convenient access to most of my academic / philosophical publications online, goto

(or, failing that, to ).

1. 2. 3. Rupert's Read: January 2010 4. 12. 15. 18. 19. 20. 21.

Rupert's Read

22. 23. 31. 32.