Sunday, 31 January 2010

*The Impossible Hamster

From the New Economics Foundation - worth looking at!

Saturday, 30 January 2010

* Howard Zinn RIP

The death has occurred of one of my few heroes – the great socialist historian Howard Zinn. He was 87.

Unlike many ‘serious’ academics, Zinn had a great way of getting his point across by using humour.

You can see his interviews here

Here are a few quotes:

If the gods had intended for people to vote, they would have given us candidates.

Remember, there are some people who cannot be educated. They must be defeated.

There is no flag large enough to cover the shame of killing innocent people.

A poem can inspire a movement. A pamphlet can spark a revolution. Civil disobedience can arouse people and provoke us to think, when we organize with one another, when we get involved, when we stand up and speak out together, we can create a power no government can suppress.

Historically, the most terrible things -war, genocide, and slavery - have resulted not from disobedience, but from obedience.

Civil disobedience is not our problem. Our problem is civil obedience. Our problem is that people all over the world have obeyed the dictates of leaders…and millions have been killed because of this obedience…Our problem is that people are obedient all over the world in the face of poverty and starvation and stupidity, and war, and cruelty. Our problem is that people are obedient while the jails are full of petty thieves… the grand thieves are running the country. That’s our problem.

Friday, 29 January 2010

*Tickets now on sale for Green Party gig

The Green Party Spring Conference takes place between February 18th and 21st.
Venue: The Arts Depot, North Finchley, London.

We have entertainment laid on every night. The big event is on Feb 20th with a night of music and comedy headlined by Alistair McGowan and that great radical acoustic band Seize the Day. The event is open to everyone. Tickets available here:

Thursday night (18th)will have quiz and an Irish Bingo, while on the Friday night (19th) we have Conference Revue, with some brilliant Green party musicians and sketches. This event takes place at The Elephant Tavern, Ballard's Lane, just fifty yards from the Arts Depot.

Both these events are entry free and opened to everyone.

Tuesday, 12 January 2010

*Mayor's year of controversial planning decisions

Four of the Boris Johnson's most controversial planning decisions are
in the running for the coveted 2010 "worst planning decision" award. Darren Johnson makes the award each year for the planning decision he considers to be the most damaging, in parallel to the Mayor's London Planning Awards.

The trophy is an inscribed breeze-block.

This year's shortlist for the prize (together with Darren's comments)

London City Airport, Newham:
Doubling the number of flights will mean huge increases in noise for residents and increasing carbon emissions from a Mayor who claims to lead the fight against climate change.

Brent Cross Cricklewood, Barnet:
By waving through a development that will create a surge in traffic and air pollution, the Mayor has undermined city-wide efforts to improve air quality, and has done nothing to help severely affected centres in neighbouring boroughs.

Columbus Tower, Tower Hamlets:
The Mayor intervened to help this 63 storey tower go ahead on the edge of Canary Wharf against the local council's wishes, apparently because Crossrail money was at stake.

Ferrier Estate, Greenwich:
The Mayor gave no objections to this regeneration project, which will slash the number of social rented homes from 1,730 to 730 in a London borough with 13,486 households on its waiting list.

Darren Johnson commented:
"The Mayor's second year in charge of London's biggest planning decisions has revealed his true priorities. Despite all his talk about sweetening the air and making London pleasant, he is waving through developments that will increase noise and pollution. The Mayor has overruled a local council for Crossrail money, but has shown little leadership in stemming the loss of affordable housing and the probable growth in congestion."

The Winner of the 2010 Worst Planning Decision Award will be announced in March this year, the day before the Mayor hosts the London Planning Awards in City Hall.

Monday, 11 January 2010

*Poll surge suggests Greens on course for first Commons seat (The Independent)

Caroline Lucas poised to secure historic breakthrough in Brighton By Michael McCarthy, Environmental Editor

The Green Party is on course to make a historic electoral breakthrough by winning the Labour-held seat of Brighton Pavilion at the forthcoming general election.

A poll of voting intentions carried out by ICM Research shows that the Greens, who had their best-ever result in the constituency in 2005, hold an eight-point lead over their nearest rivals, the Conservatives, with the Greens on 35 per cent, the Tories on 27, Labour on 25 and the Liberal Democrats on 11 per cent.
If repeated at the general election, the result would see the Greens snatch the seat from Labour with a majority of 3,500 over the Conservatives. The Green candidate, Caroline Lucas, the party leader who is already an MEP, would take her seat at Westminster in a key political advance for the British environmental movement. The UK remains the only major European country which has never had Greens in its national legislature.
Several developments boost the chance of Britain's first Green MP. The first is that Brighton Pavilion's incumbent Labour member, David Lepper, is standing down. Mr Lepper is a popular local figure. A key factor in his holding on to the seat last time around was that he had voted against the Iraq war.
The Greens' 2005 candidate there, Keith Taylor, scooped 22 per cent of the vote, beating the Liberal Democrats for third place and coming within 1,000 votes of pipping the Tories to second. That was the party's best general election performance.
Another is that dissatisfaction with the Government of Gordon Brown does not, in radical Brighton – perhaps Britain's most "alternative" city – translate into automatic support for the Conservatives. If Ms Lucas is seen as a credible "keep the Tories out" candidate, she will likely attract considerable support.
But the most significant development is the candidature of Caroline Lucas herself, Britain's most accomplished Green politician. Articulate, passionate, radical without seeming threatening, the former Oxfam adviser has been MEP for South-east England for 10 years, and is a world away from the old image of the Green party activist as someone who lived in a tepee eating brown rice.
She presides over a party which has shifted from its purely ecological roots to an identity which might be described as radical social democrat; although still with the most demanding agenda for fighting climate change, and resolutely anti-nuclear, the Greens are now equally concerned with job creation in the recession and defending the NHS.
Besides a solid record of high-profile activism in the European Parliament, Ms Lucas's achievement has been the modernising of her party, by getting it to elect a single leader. For 20 years grassroots Green activists rejected the "cult of leadership", condemning the party to have several figures speaking for it at once, which meant that the focus was hopelessly split and the Greens were consigned to the political wilderness.
The Greens now have their best and highest-profile politician standing, with no diversions of focus, for their most winnable parliamentary seat.
The party has 126 councillors in 43 local authorities across Britain as well as two MEPs, Caroline Lucas and Jean Lambert. It intends to field a "half slate" of just under 300 candidates in the forthcoming election, likely to be held in May.
But in what some may see as another sign of its political coming of age, it is concentrating its efforts in just three target seats: Brighton Pavilion, Lewisham Deptford and Norwich South.
In Norwich South, the party's deputy leader, Adrian Ramsay, is standing against the former Labour cabinet minister (and leading critic of Gordon Brown) Charles Clarke. The Greens have 13 councillors in Norwich, making them the official opposition, and came first in the city in last year's Euro elections.
In Lewisham Deptford they will field Darren Johnson, local councillor and chair of the London Assembly, against Joan Ruddock, the minister for Energy and Climate Change; they have six Green councillors in Lewisham and in the most recent local elections polled 27 per cent. But Brighton Pavilion represents their best chance of all, where Ms Lucas may be part of the first all-woman slate in a British general election.
Her Labour opponent is Nancy Platts, a former policy adviser and campaigner in the trade union movement and the voluntary sector; their Tory rival is Charlotte Vere, a businesswoman who is chief executive of an online support network for the emotionally troubled, Big White Wall. The Liberal Democrats have yet to adopt a candidate.
The Greens' hope is that in Brighton Pavilion, they, and not the Tories, will benefit from Labour voters' disenchantment. The ICM poll – at present – bears this out. For not only do the Greens have the greatest support, with 35 per cent; what excites the party campaigners is the large number of centre-left voters, Labour and Liberal Democrats, likely to switch their vote to Green if the party is best placed to stop a Tory win.
Almost two-thirds (63 per cent) of Labour and Liberal Democrat voters polled indicated they would switch, with 37 per cent saying they were "very likely" and 26 per cent saying they were "quite likely" to switch in that situation.
Although the headline on the website of the Labour candidate, Nancy Platts, asserts that "Voting Green Will Mean A Tory MP For Brighton" – by splitting the Labour vote – it is clear that some Brighton Pavilion electors take the opposite view, and consider that voting Green may keep the Conservatives out – with historic consequences.


If you haven't seen a hard copy of the paper you'll get a nice surprise: On the front page there's a very prominent green-coloured panel with a picture of Caroline and, in big letters, "Britain's first Green MP?".

*Commissionerioner Dick's award.

I totally agree with Joseph Healy's letter below.

The award to Commissioner Dick is the most undeserved since Caligula's horse. A police officer who got lost inside Scotland Yard, who prevaricated and gave ambiguous orders that led to the execution of an innocent person!!

The letter below was published in Friday's issue of the South London Press.

"I read with interest your account of the New Year's Honours List on January 1st but one significant award was not mentioned. As someone standing for the election in the constituency of Vauxhall, which includes Stockwell, where an innocent man, Jean Charles de Menezes, was killed by the Metropolitan Police in 2005. I wish to express my shock and revulsion at the award of the Queen's Police Medal to Assistant Commissioner Cressida Dick, the woman who oversaw a lot of the operation. I share the concern and anger of the de Menezes family campaigners over this - and what a slap in the face it is for them after everything else they have suffered. Once again it demonstrates that the establishment will always rally round for its own and the victims will be left voiceless. The circumstances of this case were simply too murky and there are questions which have never been answered. To grant this award now is, I believe, an utter disgrace."

Joseph Healy

Green Party Parliamentary Candidate for Vauxhall

Sunday, 10 January 2010

*Tories and Climate Change

Guest post from a Barnet Green Party member.

Did anyone else hear this gem during PMQs on Wednesday? Lifted from Hansard, the word Laughter in brackets doesn't begin to convey the volume of howls of derision Ann Winterton received for her stupid question. I would love to have seen Cameron's smug face as she spoke...

Q6. Ann Winterton (Congleton) (Con): Bearing in mind the failure of Copenhagen and the current weather cycle, which clearly indicates a cooling trend- [ Laughter. ] Mr. Speaker: Order. The more noise, the less progress we make. I want to reach other Back Benchers.

Ann Winterton: Will the Prime Minister reconsider the proposed wasteful expenditure of £100 billion on offshore wind farms, which will be incapable of delivering sufficient energy but will result in excessively exorbitant charges for electricity users?

The Prime Minister: The idea that the Conservative party could take a lead on climate change when they cannot even convince their own Back Benchers of what is necessary- [ Laughter. ]

The Conservatives cannot make up their mind about nuclear. We are now the leading power in the world for offshore wind. We will soon be making announcements that will make it clear that massive numbers of jobs will come as a result of offshore wind. That is the right policy if we are going to have 15 per cent. renewables by 2020. I cannot understand where the Conservatives' energy policy comes from. If they take out nuclear and they take out offshore wind-and every Conservative local authority is opposing onshore wind as well-they have no policy whatsoever.

Thankfully she is standing down at the next election. Still, I wrote to her thus...


Just to say how much you cheered me up on Wednesday with your question to the Prime Minister. I almost choked on my sandwich as I sat in my freezing van at lunchtime listening to PMQs.

The amount of laughter you received gave me hope that so many other MPs actually understand about Global Warming and Climate Change. The UN stated that in 2008 over 300,000 people died worldwide due to changes in climate.

May I suggest you look beyond your own snowy back garden and listen to the testament of Inuit Indians, Himalayan tour guides, and citizens of Lima in Peru etc., before you make such a misjudged statement in the Commons again.

Despite George Bush's denial of the subject, all the best data on Climate Change actually comes from American Universities. The truth is out there, go find it.

All the best on your future career,

Donald Lyven - Barnet Green Party

Saturday, 9 January 2010

*Alistair McGowan to headline at Green Party Conference entertainment.

My favourite comedian Alistair McGowan has confirmed that he will headline at the Green Party Conference concert.

The Conference takes place between Feb 18 and 21st in The Arts Depot, Tally Ho Corner, North Finchley, London N12.

There will be entertainment on every night with the main event on Saturday 20th.

As well as Alistair, there will be the brilliant young comedian Ian Smith -

and my favourite band of all time - "Seize the Day" who have recorded dozens of brilliant songs including the Motorway Song ("Fuck your motorway"), Designer Kidz, and one of the saddest songs of all time "I Was Only Doing My Job" Narrated from the point of view of the lorry driver who ran down and killed Jill Phipps, it starts off with defensive bravado but as the song progresses, you hear the guilt coming through. You can hear it on

There will also be a music review and comedy on Friday 19th and Quiz, Irish Bingo and auction on Thursday 18th.

All entertainment events are open to the general public. All performers have donated their time for free.