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 Monbiot.com

Tuesday, 29 July 2014

Petition for a fair voting system



We all know that first past the post is an unfair electoral system that produces disproportionate results. First past the post elections in multi-member constituencies (such as the wards in London borough elections) are particularly disproportionate.

A good example is what happened to the Hackney Green party in this May's local elections. The party did extraordinarily well to finish a clear second in those elections in terms of votes cast. However because of the unfair electoral system they won no seats and finished behind the Tories and Lib Dems as well Labour where it counts in the council chamber. This cant be right or fair.

The Hackney Green Party has launched a petition to call on Government to adopt a fairer voting system for local elections in England and Wales (Scotland and Northern Ireland already use a form of proportional representation - the Single Transferable Vote).

I would urge you to sign this petition. 


The petition calls for the Government to adopt the same voting system for local elections as is used for the London Assembly (and Scottish Parliament and Welsh Assembly) - the Additional Member System. I've done some rough calculations (using some stylised assumptions) to calculate what the result in Hackney would have been under either the Additional Member System or the Single Transferable Vote. I'm sure you will agree that either form of proportional representation would be an improvement on what actually happened (and I agree with the Hackney Greens that AMS is the better form of system to go for even if it would not have delivered them as many seats as STV).

                          %age votes    FPTP seats   AMS seats   STV seats

Labour                     56%               50                  32              40

Green                      21%                0                   12              13

Tory                         12%                4                    7                3  

Lib Dem                    9%                 3                    5                1

TUSC                        2%                 0                    1                0