Tuesday, 31 May 2011

UEA Festival of Resistance

I will be speaking on Wednesday at the UEA Festival of Resistance...do join us if you can!

UEA FESTIVAL OF RESISTANCE: Timetable – Wednesday 1st June

Union House 1.31

12:00 – 13:15: Education Not For Sale - With Mark Bergfeld NUS NEC (pc) and speaker from the NUT (National Union of Teachers).

13:30 – 14:45: One Million Green Jobs – with Rupert Read, UEA Lecturer and former local Green Party Councillor.

Arts Building 3.01

15:00 – 16:15: Media and the New Social Movements – With Jan Ainsley (Future Radio Presenter).

16:30 – 17:30: FILM SHOWING – Egypt: Inside the Revolution – Film showing of the new documentary by John Rees about his experiences of the Egyptian Revolution, and its implications to the broader issue of Imperialism and the Middle East today. Followed by questions and discussion.

Lecture Theatre 3

18:00 - STOP THE CUTS: WHERE NEXT FOR THE MOVEMENT? – Rally with Billy Hayes (General Secretary of the CWU), Ian Gibson (Former Local MP) and Adrian Ramsay (Deputy Leader of the Green Party)

'After the TUC demonstration on the 26th March brought over half a million people to Central London to protest against the Government's unfair and unnecessary cuts, come to this rally to discuss the next steps in the fight back against the cuts.

Material Inequality in Britain

Please join us for this fascinating presentation where I will be appearing as a guest speaker:

Material Inequality in Britain

Based on

“The Spirit Level:

why more equal societies almost always do better”

by Richard Wilkinson and Kate Pickett

Martin Wilkinson (Richard's brother) will give a presentation on the book and lead a discussion on equality, both in terms of the Quaker Testimony to Equality and more generally on how we in Britain should respond to the message of the book. (Rupert Read will then offer a short philosophical, political and Quakerly response.)

Saturday 25th June, 2-5pm


Friends Meeting House,

Upper Goat Lane,


All welcome – entry free

For further details contact Teresa Belton 01603 465851, teresa.belton@ntlworld.com

Saturday, 28 May 2011


A 'Cafe Conversation' led by me, today, Saturday, 28 May, 3 pm, at Aladdin's Cafe, Magdalen Street, Norwich.  All welcome!

In politics, at work, when making major personal decisions, the values you hold dear determine what you do. Often, people and organisations are unaware of the values they hold. This conversation will be about getting clearer about (y)our values using techniques derived from the latest philosophical, psychological and linguistic research (which I will be drawing on in the book I am writing on this: see www.greenwordsworkshop.org ).


Friday, 20 May 2011

The Politics of New Labour: A Gramscian Analysis

I will be speaking at the launch of this excellent new book by Andrew Pearmain - please join us if you can.

The Politics of New Labour:
A Gramscian Analysis

Andrew Pearmain

Full of excellent research, intellectual promise and visionary concept... an important analysis not merely of the near futile decade of Blairism but of the failure of the wider Labour movement and indeed the entire British left’ – Tribune, 3/5/11

This book is an attempt ‘to think in a Gramscian way’ about the curious political phenomenon of New Labour. It is written partly in retort to those people at the heart of the New Labour project who have cited Gramsci as a source of inspiration for their ideas. Pearmain argues that New Labour makes a far better object than agent of Gramscian analysis. Part I discusses Gramsci’s influence on left thinking in Britain – culminating in the 1980s debates in Marxism Today on Thatcherism and the ‘Forward march of Labour halted’. It shows how arguments loosely based on these debates then fed through into the Labour Party, as its leadership – from Kinnock to Blair and Brown – sought a better understanding of Labour’s defeats and how to adapt to ‘new times’. Part II is a critique of New Labour, arguing that though elements of the Gramscian analysis of Labourism did play some part in its formation, much was lost in translation. In discussing the making of New Labour, and what it took from both right and left (as well as what it chose to leave out), Pearmain shows how Gramsci’s key political concepts offer a compelling explanation of exactly what went wrong with New Labour.

Andrew Pearmain is a political historian based at the University of East Anglia. He was a member of the Communist Party (1975-85), of the Labour Party (1997-2002), of the Green Party (2003-present) and a Norwich City councillor (1999-2003). He is also a consultant and national expert on social care for people with HIV/AIDS.

Norwich Book Launch: 5 pm, 1st June 2011, Room 326/7, Arts Block UEA, with Andrew Pearmain (author), Ian Gibson (ex-MP, Norwich North) and Rupert Read.

Sunday, 15 May 2011

Israelis attack Palestinian protesters - I listened live as my wife described the scenes:

Read up from the bottom:



RupertRead RupertRead

#Israel now mobilising planes to help 'contain' protests. It's time for a #noflyzone over the #Golan, West Bank, #Gaza...



RupertRead RupertRead


@NickKristof Yes, you got it right. Check out @RupertRead for @JulietteHarkin's reporting from #Qalandiya.



RupertRead RupertRead

I have seen plastic bullets fired (in Northern ireland). But I never heard live-fire (?) before today. Eerie, to hear down the phone. Terrifying

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#Israel behaving similarly to #Bahrain, #Gaddafi, #Assad... Is this the new #intifada? It was promised for #May15: it has begun...

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I heard on the phone Israel firing on protesters (unarmed) at #Qalandiya. My brave wife @julietteharkin is there to report on this.

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RupertRead RupertRead

The #ArabSpring is come to #Palestine - and the Israelis don't like it. Hail to the amazing bravery of the Palestinian folk protesting still

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Just heard SHOOTING live on the phone. Israeli snipers shooting from the roofs. (This on top of huge amounts of tear gas already used.)

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RupertRead RupertRead

On the phone now to @JulietteHarkin, hearing huge numbers of ambulances leaving from the #Nakba day protest at #Qalandiya checkpoint.


Thursday, 12 May 2011

Lords reform: The voting system question: An Open Letter to Nick Clegg

To the Rt. Hon Nick Clegg, Deputy Prime Minister:
I am delighted to see that you are proceeding with Lords reform. We Britons have been awaiting this for over a century. It is vital to our being (becoming) a democratic country.
But: Lords reform might be severely hampered if it is perceived to be bringing in a variation of the very system that the British electorate has just voted down. This makes AV-Plus or STV (which is simply AV in multi-member constituencies) extremely undesirable as potential methods for use in elections to the upper house. See my recent piece here explaining this: http://www.libdemvoice.org/the-independent-view-how-to-implement-full-lords-reform-now-that-the-referendum-is-lost-24070.html .
 So I was dismayed to see that you are contemplating...STV as your preferred method. This is inviting contempt from the media, the public, and from the Lords themselves!: http://www.guardian.co.uk/politics/2011/may/11/plans-reform-house-of-lords
 This is not just a techy or dweeby point. Picking the wrong voting system for Lords reform could kill it. All the opponents of reform are looking for is an excuse. Don't offer them one!
 As I argue in my piece on LibDemVoice, surely instead we have to look either to AMS (e.g. in the Scots version, or better still in the classic '1 vote' version that is Green Party policy: where you simply have a large-enough top-up to ensure proportionality) or to a fully list-based PR-system. The worry that the latter would lead to Party-domination can be countered by having open lists.
 If you agree with this, I hope you may act swiftly on it. I don't want us all to have to wait another 100 years to reform the upper house, just because of a poor choice of voting system for electing it with... If the White Paper goes forward with STV as its preferred choice, it will not be long before opponents of Lords reform cotton on and denounce the bill as simply a deceptive retread of the referendum.
 I hope that you will seriously consider this point. And while you are at it, check out my idea for a radical addition to your plan of democratising the Lords, here: http://rupertsread.blogspot.com/2011/02/new-proposal-for-green-future-how-house.html
Best wishes for success in this hugely-important project;
 Dr. Rupert Read, Eastern Region Green Party Co-ordinator.

Saturday, 7 May 2011

How to implement full Lords reform, now that the referendum is lost

GAINS FOR GREENS: Significant gains for Green party in parts of the Eastern Region as voters reject the main parties to vote Green.


GAINS FOR GREENS:Significant gains for Green party in parts of the Eastern Region as voters reject the main parties to vote Green.



  • Norwich Greens set a new record for the largest Green group even in the Region;
  • Mid-Suffolk Greens become the official Opposition on the Council;
  • Greens break through onto new Councils in St.Alban's and Kings Lynn and West Norfolk.

 The Green party gained seats and votes in many areas of the Eastern Region of England on Thursday/Friday as voters rejected the main parties in favour of voting for local Green Party Councillors.


In Norwich the Green Party romped home with increased majorities in all cases, increasing the amount of Green-held seats on the council by one to a total of fifteen, with Jo Henderson taking Thorpe Hamlet from the Liberal Democrats with 41% of the vote, (1328).(1)


In Mid Suffolk the Green party held Mendlesham and Onehouse, with increased majorities.

In Mendlesham Andrew Stringer gained 764 votes, (73.96% ), to win comfortably.

John Matthessen was returned to Onehouse  with 539 ( 56.32% ) of the votes cast. Elmswell was a gain for the Party with Sarah Mansell  gaining 21.37% of the vote.

Rachel Eburne was elected unopposed for Haughley and Wetherden.( 2 )

The Green Party will form the backbone of the group that will now be the official Opposition on Mid-Suffolk.


Greens were also re-elected in Witham (Braintree), in Watford, and in Waveney.


Simon Grover was elected the first ever Green Party Councillor on St. Albans Council, and Lori Allen the first ever Green on Kings Lynn and West Norfolk Council.


Said Rupert Read, Eastern Region GP Co-ordinator: "This was a very good night for us. The Green Party is going from strength to strength here in the East, which bodes well for our prospects in the future – and bodes well for all our children and their children, too."


There are now 41 Green Councillors on 12 Principal Authority Councils in the East of England. Both these numbers are the highest they have ever been.




Notes. (1) Green Party website. (2). Mid Suffolk DC Website.









Councillor Dr. Rupert Read
Do you micro-blog? I do! 'Follow' me, on:
http://twitter.com/GreenRupertRead [my 'politician' account] &
http://twitter.com/RupertRead [my 'personal' account]
http://twitter.com/OneWorldColumn [our group blog].
   [Plus: For all things Rupert, go to www.rupertread.net ]

#Yes2AV: Where it all went wrong

So: the margin was slightly huger even than I had predicted. Let the post-mortems begin. Because we need to know how to do much better next time. The next referendum – on PR – might be as little as 5 years away… And we should be pressing immediately for PR for the upper house, which would be a historic accomplishment. (On this, see my guest piece appearing tonight on LibDemVoice.)


Let's get some obvious and crucial points out of the way first:


·         Clegg was of course an albatross around the Yes side's neck.

·         The right-wing-press decided that it wasn't going to tolerate AV, and that made a huge impact.

·         The No side had more money (it hasn't declared how much more – that's exactly how we know that it had more, because otherwise it would certainly have declared otherwise), and money buys votes in a 'democracy'.

·         The plain lies of the No campaign and of senior Tories, and the strategy of 'Confuse the voters as much as possible', seem to have paid off.

·         The official Electoral Commission document that everyone received didn't help.


But it seems to me, having thought about this long and hard – during the campaign, as it went along, and went nowhere – that the failure of the Yes campaign to make any progress at all can also be put down in significant part to the following factors, over which there should be a little more breast-beating. Some of these are the responsibility of the official Yes campaign; some are more widely distributed around the broader 'progressive' movement:


·         The failure to identify the #No2AV campaign from an early stage and consistently with Nick Griffin and the BNP. Here is what this might have looked like: http://www.youtube.com/user/thepeoplesayyes#p/a/u/1/6ojwifv4xdE

·         The failure of HopeNotHate to endorse the #Yes2AV campaign: such an endorsement was said to be 'in the pipeline' but never materialised. HopeNotHate's gargantuan email list could have been used to great effect to bolster the Yes campaign, instead of being frittered away on short-termist efforts to campaign against the BNP in particular localities.

·         The failure of 38degrees to endorse the #Yes2AV campaign: This is the dreadful fence-sitting job that they came up with in the end: http://blog.38degrees.org.uk/2011/05/04/av-referendum-reasons-to-vote/ . Again, 38degrees have of course a truly massive email etc. list that could have supported AV as a cause that would have unlocked so much more potential in future for the kind of causes 38degrees is supposed to stand for.

·         The preponderance of the NO voice in Labour raises a serious question as to whether there really is a 'progressive movement' in this country. Electoral reform – a referendum on which Labour itself of course promised in its manifesto – is a sine qua non of the mission of a site like Liberal Conspiracy, the idea of a pluralist centre-left, a potential rainbow 'progressive alliance'. The bulk of LabourNo squatting tribally in the way of it, and providing thereby some 'legitimate' cover to the Murdoch-Dacre-Elliott-Griffin-Cameron alliance leading the fight against reform, was depressing in the extreme.

·         The deep overall failure to message adequately, as my www.greenwordsworkshop colleague Matt Wootton has been arguing repeatedly also here on LC: See http://liberalconspiracy.org/2011/04/02/the-shiny-new-yes2av-slogan-has-been-unveiled-its-awful/ http://liberalconspiracy.org/2011/04/28/electoral-reform-why-the-yes-campaigns-message-is-failing/ . The messaging problem began with the failure of the YES side to establish that there was a profound problem with FPTP. That is the first step that any campaign needs: 'Here is a serious problem that needs fixing'. YES failed at that first hurdle. (For intimations of what a better-messaged campaign could have looked like, see http://www.leftfootforward.org/2011/04/unofficial-yes-to-av-campaigners-are-achieving-success-from-the-grass-roots/ )

·         The official YES campaign was over-centralised. My first-hand experience of this was confirmed by others in the campaign on the ground, including local YES-group-leaders. Don't get me wrong: clearly, YES actually did, to its credit, build up a serious on the ground campaign, unlike NO; but it still treated it in an overly-centralised manner.  Large numbers of leaflets etc. were repeatedly dumped with relatively little warning onto people ill-equipped to utilise them in an adequate and timely manner. We thus had the terrible irony of the side with less money (Yes) ending up with vast numbers of undelivered letters and leaflets – the printing for which had of course been paid for out of that thin war-chest…

·         The trouble started even with the name of the official campaign. The 'Campaign for Fairer Votes'. 'Fairer', disastrously, implies that the existing system may already be 'fair'! ['Fairer' could mean 'even fairer'.]  That's a hopeless basis on which to run against the status quo. (For a deepening of this kind of criticism, see Matt's brilliant article here: http://www.greenwordsworkshop.org/node/28 )

·         Finally, and crucially: the YES campaign made a horrendous mistake in not doing a freepost leaflet to the whole country, but instead focussing its resources extremely selectively. For just half a million pounds, everyone in the country could have received a focussed high-production-values leaflet, to counter the unpleasant propaganda that the official NO campaign DID push through every letterbox in the land. The YES campaign said to me that they had decided to spend their money elsewhere. I just don't buy that. But, even if it were true, even just a quarter of a million pounds would have been enough to have got a basic hard-hitting leaflet through every door in the country. As it was, I found that there were many people who had been convinced by the NO material that they had received, and who had simply had nothing from YES to counter it or trump it or to reframe.


These are some of the areas on which we must reflect, and must do better -- if there is a next time. There was a serious failure to engage and inspire the country, this time. A failure to brand Yes as the Future and No as the Past. A self-destructive inability to point to the Tories and say "THESE are the people who are holding us back, THESE people are just saying this because they don't want change, because they've had the system stitched up to their advantage". 

That, above all, has got to change.



[An edited version of this post first appeared at http://liberalconspiracy.org/2011/05/07/the-yes-to-av-campaign-let-the-post-mortems-begin/ ]


<a href="http://www.yestofairervotes.org/">Vote #Yes2AV </a>  | <a href="http://www.yestofairervotes.org/">Alternative Vote</a> | <a href="http://www.yestofairervotes.org/">Yes 2 AV</a>

Tuesday, 3 May 2011

My reaction to Bin Laden's killing: Four questions about a funeral

Check out my latest BRIGHTGREEN article, '4 questions and a funeral': http://brightgreenscotland.org/index.php/2011/05/bin-ladens-killing-four-questions-and-a-funeral/

Monday, 2 May 2011

If you haven't yet watched this viral sensation, now's the time!:

IT'S ALL ABOUT THE REFORM CAT VIDEO!: http://www.youtube.com/user/thepeoplesayyes#p/a/f/0/HiHuiDD_oTk In terms of online, now, in the AV referendum, this is where it's at...

Sunday, 1 May 2011

Lucas, Huhne, Denham: #Yes2AV = progressive majroity

The sensational #Yes2AV piece that made the OBSERVER frontpage today happen: http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2011/may/01/av-referendum-huhne-lucas-denham
1. 2. 3. Rupert's Read: May 2011 4. 12. 15. 18. 19. 20. 21.

Rupert's Read

22. 23. 31. 32.