Saturday, 27 September 2014

Caroline Lucas: Why I oppose Government's motion on Iraq air strikes

Caroline Lucas: Why I oppose Government's motion on Iraq air strikes

Caroline Lucas spoke in the Parliamentary recall Iraq debate today:

Every vote I cast in Parliament weighs heavily on my mind, especially as, unlike most other MPs, I have no whip telling me what to do – I consider the evidence, reflect on the principles I was elected to stand up for, listen to my constituents in Brighton Pavilion.  

Never more so than on a day like today, when MPs are deciding whether to carry out air strikes in Iraq against the so called Islamic State (ISIL).

Whatever we decide people will die. Be it directly at the hands of ISIL, whose barbarity seems to know no limits. Or when they are hit by bombs dropped by the US, France or the UK

And, of course, people are dying as a result of the humanitarian crisis engulfing the region – the Refugee Council tell me it’s the first time since the Second World War that the number of people worldwide who are fleeing their homes is more than 50 million, and the conflicts in the Middle East are a key driver of this exodus.  The death toll from the crisis in Syria is heading towards 200,000. Getting aid to all Syrians and Iraqis in need must remain one of the UK’s top priorities.
Amongst the questions I have asked myself ahead of today’s vote is how best to help close down the cycles of violence, which are taking so many lives.

There are no easy answers. But there is this certainty: killing people rarely kills their ideas.

The hateful ideology of ISIL must be stopped but the risk is that air strikes will be counterproductive: every Western bomb dropped will fuel it anew, providing fertile recruitment, fundraising and propaganda opportunities.
I don’t think this is like the last Iraq war.  I don’t think that the Prime Minster is manipulating intelligence or lying to the House.

There is much in the Government’s motion with which I agree.  It is written in a measured and very reasonable-sounding tone.  But the considered, thoughtful tone cannot get away from the bottom line, which is to give permission for the UK to bomb Iraq. Nor can it mask that what is often called ‘precision bombing’ is rarely precise.  We should be under no illusion that we are debating whether to go to war.

With virtually everyone on the Government and opposition benches looking set to vote for air strikes, there is a real danger too that diplomatic and political solutions are side lined yet further – and possibly even made more difficult.
The real question should not be whether to bomb but how we can intensify work politically and diplomatically to address the fundamental hostility between Sunnis and Shias – with regional powers such as Iran, Turkey and Saudi Arabia centre stage and support for a fledgling new Iraqi government to deal with seemingly intractable problems like the failures of the Iraqi armed forces, sharing of oil revenues, decentralisation demands and territorial disputes a top priority.

Also uppermost in my mind, in a week where it’s been revealed that a young man from Brighton has been killed whilst fighting for ISIL in Syria, is that there is nothing Islamic about what this extremist group are doing. That as well as embarking upon a concerted effort to find a political solution to the current crisis, we must also redouble our efforts to tackle the radicalisation of some members of our communities, and redouble our efforts to address deeply worrying levels of anti-Muslim sentiment and incidents.
Our best hope of reducing the numbers radicalised would be to champion a new foreign policy doctrine based on clear principles, consistently applied.  This should not include selling arms to brutal regimes like Saudi Arabia and Qatar. It should not include tolerating war crimes in Gaza.  We must stand up for international law.

Being the only Green MP can be lonely at times, especially on days like today. But my inbox this morning is full of messages from constituents urging me to vote against air strikes and I know that when I stand up and oppose the Government’s motion, I am representing the views of many.

The Green Room

Sunday, 21 September 2014

Green membership surge

 The Scottish Green Party has seen over 2000 new members join between close of polls on Thursday evening and 4pm on Saturday afternoon, peaking at four new members a minute. This represents a significant increase for the party, alongside polling over recent months which suggests that up to 11 Green MSPs could be elected at the next Holyrood elections
. The surge is also being seen on social media. The Scottish Greens' twitter account - @scotgp - now has over 15,300 followers compared to Scottish Labour's 13,000.
 Commenting, Scottish Greens co-convenor Patrick Harvie MSP said: "This spectacular increase in our membership shows that the hope and inspiration of the Yes campaign will not be fading away. We will be redoubling our efforts for a fairer, greener Scotland and will be doing so as a much larger force than we were a few days ago. The referendum campaign has transformed Scotland and it is no exaggeration that it has transformed the Scottish Green Party as well." The party is now looking ahead to its conference on the 11th & 12th October in Edinburgh, set to be its largest ever.

The England & Wales Green Party is also doing well. This week we hit an all time record of 19,000. 

Wednesday, 3 September 2014

Lawson's think thank

Launch of new Global Warming Policy Forum mired by new revelations linking former chancellor to oil and tobacco-funded climate denial think tank

Lord Lawson faces increasing skepticism about the independence of his climate denial charity as the names of two of his anonymous donors with links to the tobacco and oil funded Institute of Economic Affairs are disclosed for the first time.

Sunday, 31 August 2014

TTIP - the end of democracy?

By AM Poppy   .

I spent ninety minutes this morning on our high street shouting sweetly to all the passersby: “May I give you a leaflet on TTIP? We’re raising awareness today!” A satisfying proportion of people took a leaflet – but what will they think when they read it?*
They will find, in a nutshell, that TTIP will herald the end of democracy. The leaflets are cogently argued and based entirely on fact. But there has been barely any mention of it in the media. (I’m only aware of one Guardian columnist and one mention on the BBC’s World at One on a Saturday). So I put myself in the shopper’s position skimming the leaflet while unpacking their plastic bags, and find an apocalyptic prediction in a leaflet. What would I think – here is a dangerous threat I must face up to, or this is conspiracy lunacy?
Our MP, Theresa Villiers, knows it’s true. She’s called it “a once in a lifetime opportunity” (you can see her letter on my personal blog).
She’s right – it’s a once-and-for-all power grab by the corporations, being negotiated by civil servants behind closed doors in the context of international law that is not used to being handled in the open, unlike treaties that are negotiated by politicians and diplomats in the public eye.
When I get back home, the news headline is about a sick boy who is probably in the Pyrenees on his way to Spain with his parents and six siblings. The news item is dominated by the phrase “it’s unclear" – why his parents took him away from the hospital; whether his feeding tube’s battery has run out; whether a new battery can be found; or where the family is”. Is that news? Meanwhile, TTIP is nowhere in the bulletin at all.
We are being steamrollered by the corporate juggernaut. And the appalling shame of it is that it’s happening without us knowing about it! 
The Tories have always been the corporates’ party. Where is the Labour party’s protest at the threat to workers’ rights? Where is the Lib Dems' clamour against the erosion of civil liberties that this brings?
Where is the media whose job it is to tell us what the politicians don’t want us to know? My challenge to every journalist and editor in the country is this: how do you justify your news priorities, your salary, and your professionalism while keeping under wraps the greatest threat to democracy that we face?
We Greens, trades unionists and anti-austerity campaigners were out there today spreading the word, but as the researcher David Malone has said: “Get it – the nation/state has collapsed. The state no longer works for the nation. The state has been bought by big money”. I’m fighting it. What are you doing?
* TTIP = the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership. Find much more online

Tuesday, 19 August 2014

Kew Gardens

After more than 4 years it's easy for those who campaign against this Coalition's cuts to become disheartened or just plain overwhelmed by the magnitude of the task facing them. And compared to the life-or-death impact of cuts to social welfare or the NHS it is sometimes difficult to find time or energy for what can sometimes be viewed as less urgent issues. 

This is why I was so keen to invite a speaker from the Save Kew campaign to address members of the London Green party ahead of our monthly meeting last night. We were very lucky to have Julie Flanagan, a negotiations officer with the Prospect trade union, along to give an informative talk about the cuts Kew faces and the impact they could have.

Julie gave a good background to the work of Kew and the nature of the cuts it faces. I thought she was particularly strong on:

- the importance of the science work undertaken at Kew and its links to climate change, medical advances and even forensic science
- why Kew should not be moved to a self-funding model, we need its scientists to work on scientific breakthroughs not on raising money from grant-making bodies or other organisations

The Green party members at the meeting obviously agreed with Julie because most of their questions / comments were about how to help with the campaign. As chair and a founding member of the Green Party Trade Union group it was gratifying to so much common ground between party members and a trade union speaker! 

I'm sure many who were not at the meeting would also like to help. You can do so by:

(1) Signing the petition:

(2) Liking the campaign on facebook:

(3) Following on twitter

I will update on further developments as they occur.   

Friday, 15 August 2014

World Nuclear Industry Status Report

 Many are not aware of the 2014 World Nuclear Industry Status Report - a yearly highlight of credible facts regarding nuclear industry. (These facts are by the way not very supportive of that industry)

For very obvious reasons this report has gained no news cover in the UK, no Guardian no nothing.

Links could be found on the German Green Party, Heinrich Boell Stiftung just to name a few.

Wind and solar alone generated, in the first half of 2014, 25% and combined with others 35% of Germany electricity needs.  German carbon emissions are down by 25%.... Total world record achieved over 12 years with a fraction of the subsidies nukes had. 

Wednesday, 13 August 2014

Great film explaining the danger of TTIP
 Please watch and circulate this animation on TTIP by Attac.

Thursday, 7 August 2014

Why Bankers HATE the Green Party!


The Robin Hood Tax, could raise hundreds of billions & put an end to austerity.

Wednesday, 30 July 2014

As the justifications for gross inequality collapse, only the Green party is brave enough to take on the billionaires’ boot boys.
....................................................So here we have a perfect opportunity for progressive parties: the moral and ideological collapse of the system of thought to which they were previously in thrall. What do they do? Avoid the opportunity like diphtheria. Cowed by the infrastructure of purchased argument, Labour fiddles and dithers.
But there is another party, which seems to have discovered the fire and passion that moved Labour so long ago: the Greens. Last week they revealed that their manifesto for the general election will propose a living wage, the renationalisation of the railways, a maximum pay ratio (no executive should receive more than 10 times the salary of the lowest-paid worker) and, at the heart of their reforms, a wealth tax of the kind Piketty recommends.
Yes, it raises plenty of questions, but none of them are unanswerable – especially if this is seen as one step towards the ideal position: a global wealth tax, that treats capital equally, wherever it might lodge. Rough as this proposal is, it will start to challenge the political consensus and draw people who thought they had nowhere to turn. Expect the billionaires’ boot boys to start screaming, once they absorb the implications. And take their boos and jeers as confirmation that it’s on to something. You wanted a progressive alternative? You’ve got it.
Twitter: @georgemonbiot. A fully referenced version of this article can be found at